New Government Sets Agenda For Parliament
The new Government has prioritised social care and homeownership, but a mention of no-fault divorce was missing from Queen’s Speech list of priorities.
The Queen’s Speech today (19 December), along with a plan for Brexit, the NHS and planning reforms, mentioned a vague cross-party plan for social care and several new schemes to help homeownership in the UK, including a discount for local first-time buyers.
Jeremy Raj, national head of Residential Property at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The commitment to improving building safety post-Grenfell must be backed up with swift action and real money, otherwise the disappointing reaction to date will simply continue.
“The renewal of the commitment to promoting home ownership flies in the face of prevailing trends in the way people live and work, and the ideology should not overtake the reality that we simply need more confidence, more properties and a less cumbersome and expensive moving experience for the average homeowner to help get the market moving again.
“The intentions behind discounts for local first time buyers are laudable, however the danger is that in practice, a lot of time, energy and resource will be spent creating complex new rules in an already complex system.
“It’s interesting that in such a packed list, there was no mention of greater house building targets or the additional 3% surcharge on foreign buyers owning properties in the UK, or indeed social housing, all of which would make a real impact on the UK housing crisis.”
The long-awaited social care green paper, first promised by Damien Green in 2017, has been put on hold indefinitely.
Kelly Greig, head of later life planning at Irwin Mitchell said: “After years of delay, to have later life planning mentioned in the Queen’s Speech is clear intent from the government that social care is now a priority. But simply announcing that there will be a cross-party plan for long-term reform is the easy bit – we need to see action as soon as possible.
“It cannot come soon enough. Paying for care and an ageing population are not things we can bury our heads in the sand about: the cost of care continues to rise and be out of reach for many, while dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosis rates continue to creep up. Just this week new figures from the Alzheimer’s Society found almost two million people in the UK are looking after someone with dementia, and Age UK has found 3.3 million people now spend their retirement caring for another.
“To mention that nobody will need to have to sell their home in order to afford care is to be commended, but after years of promises from the government on social care and yet putting the green paper on ice, we will simply have to wait and see whether they intend to fulfil their promises. It is clear that without swift action the UK is facing an absolutely massive care crisis.”
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No-fault divorce was notably missing from the actual Queen’s speech, having been tabled in previous parliamentary sessions, but the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was included in the background notes.
Ros Bever, national head of Family Law at Irwin Mitchell said: “It’s a real shame that there was no mention of no-fault divorce introduced in the Queen’s Speech after the hard work by campaigners and lawmakers to see this change.
Although it wasn’t singled out as a priority the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was included in the background notes so we hope to see swift progress through Parliament.
“Talk of shifting divorce law away from the ‘blame game’ has been rumbling on for decades, while families have to deal with the unnecessary stress and tension that a conflict-based divorce system creates.
“The case of Tini Owens last year, who is forced to stay in her marriage as her husband contested the divorce, also goes to show the hard reality some men and women have to face – which could be eliminated with no-fault divorce.”