Queen’s Speech 2015: What does it mean for business and banks?

The first fully Conservative Queen’s Speech in 20 years contained a packed schedule of bills for the year ahead. Queen Elizabeth II sat in a gold throne in the House of Lords

Bills on devolution, Europe and immigration; jobs, trade unions and skills - there was plenty to get the business community talking.

Europe

The European question hangs over the government, but as Katja Hall, CBI deputy director general says, it must not “overshadow the rest of its programme”. “Businesses need to see it commit to a genuinely achievable reform agenda, making the UK and the EU more competitive,” she adds.

EY said one third of investors it surveyed would either cut or freeze planned investments up to 2017, when the in-out referendum is scheduled to take place.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, believes the referendum “should be held as soon as is practicable to minimise further business uncertainty”.

Enterprise

Mr Longworth welcomed plans to cut red tape but warns that as so much comes from Europe, meaningful reform will be “a challenge”.

John Allan, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses was also pleased to see the government wants to cut “burdensome red tape” and address issues like the “billions owed to small businesses in overdue payments”. He added: “The enterprise bill is a real opportunity to make progress on these issues.”

According to Ms Hall, the bill should give small and medium-sized ones the “space to grow and thrive”.

Scotland

A transfer of powers to Scotland, most notably control over tax, will mean some potentially major changes to businesses and banks.

Ms Hall says firms want to “operate under a common set of business taxes, employment law, energy framework and financial regulation”. The FSB also noted that “difference itself can’t become a barrier to trade”.

Housing

More homes and more first-time buyers is the message from the government, which ought to be good news for banks and builders alike.

Ms Hall notes how the Tory government is making home ownership “a top priority” but stressed that it’s essential that the policy “delivers the best value for money and improves the supply of affordable homes”.

She added: “Fast-tracking the planning system to build Starter Homes on brownfield sites is a step in the right direction, and the government must work closely with the business community to make sure the scheme works effectively for house-builders and prospective buyers alike.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, says the “devil will be in the detail”.