Key points from a Queen's Speech with 'nothing' to fix cost-of-living crisis

Has Boris Johnson done enough to address the cost of living? Anushka Asthana reports

The prime minister's plan for the year has been set out in the Queen's Speech - but critics are already saying it lacks substance.

The legislative programme, delivered by Prince Charles after the monarch dropped out with mobility issues, focuses on growing the economy, crime, the NHS and "making the most of our Brexit freedoms", according to Boris Johnson.

Other policies mentioned in the Queen's Speech include the privatisation of Channel 4, a new crackdown on so-called “guerrilla protests” or disruptive activism, an energy strategy and a plan to level the playing-field on education.

The Prince of Wales said the government's priority is to "strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living".

Watch Prince Charles deliver the Queen's Speech:

On the biggest issue facing Britons, the cost-of-living crisis, the PM said the government "cannot completely shield people" from rising prices but "where we can help, we will".

Despite claiming his Queen's Speech will "get our country back on track", ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says "there is nothing that provides immediate relief from two clear and present dangers, namely the soaring cost of living and the threat from Putin".

Unison the union said the government had "run out of ideas" to address the cost of living, adding: "Ministers haven't grasped the seriousness of the situation."

Here are some of the main points in Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech:

  • Brexit freedoms

The 'Brexit Freedoms Bill' seeks to "ensure that the UK continues to seize the benefits of Brexit and utilises our regulatory freedoms", according to the Queen's Speech.

It is is one of the flagship plans in the prime minister's agenda, which the PM says will "strengthen our links with the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies".

Among the policies in the bill is a plan to remove tariff-based borders to trade by signing free trade agreements with more countries, following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Future regulations brought in may not necessarily be in line with those previously imposed by the EU but will be "will be proportionate and created in collaboration with business to help spur economic growth".

The government also says the bill will help grow the economy by supporting business innovation and entrepreneurship, "while cutting £1 billion of EU red tape for businesses", in order to "address the cost of living".

  • The cost of living

Growing the economy is the main way the PM is seeking to address the cost-of-living crisis and there was not any new support set out beyond what had been announced previously.

The government says it has already provided support worth £22 billion but suggests further help could come if prices continue to rise and family struggles get worse.

Support already set out includes a £150 council tax rebate available to most households and a £200 energy bills discount for everyone, which comes in the form of a loan to be repaid over five years.

Helping people into work is the best way to is the "best approach" to tackling the cost of living, the government says, but "will not hesitate to take further steps to support households if needed".

Cost of living plan condemned by opposition MPs and unions

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the Queen's Speech "does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye watering inflation".

Len Duvall, leader of the London Assembly Labour group, said: "This was yet another damp squib of a Queen's Speech which will do very little to help Londoners on the lowest incomes amidst the spiralling cost-of-living crisis."

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said "nothing announced today will make a shred of difference to the millions crushed by soaring living costs".

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: "With 38 Bills but no direct help with spiralling costs, this speech was a far cry from what struggling families needed to hear today.

"Government offered no short-term comfort for parents struggling to feed their kids in the face of rocketing prices, and no long-term vision for ending child poverty.

"Ministers must respond now to the scale of the current living-costs crisis by committing to an increase in benefits in line with inflation from October.

Prime Minister Johnson said the "aftershocks of Covid-19 and the biggest war in Europe since 1945" are causing disruption around the world, with all major economies facing cost-of-living pressures.

"No country is immune and no government can realistically shield everyone from the impact," he said.

Residents of Scunthorpe tell Social Affairs Correspondent Sarah Corker what they think of the speech

  • Education strategy

The aim of the strategy is to give everyone equal opportunities, "no matter where they live", and to make technical education easier to obtain.

“Reforms to education will help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live, raising standards and improving the quality of schools and higher education," the Queen's Speech said.

A bid to level the playing-field will see "funding is allocated on a fair and consistent basis for all schools" and "improve safeguarding for children wherever they are educated".

There's a plan to improve attendance levels by requiring schools to publish an attendance policy and making reforms to the attendance legal framework.

More schools will be supported to become academies and apprenticeships will be promoted.

The government wants to make technical education "more attractive" and "encourage greater levels of private sector investment in employee training, both for apprentices and for employees more generally".

For expert analysis and insight on the biggest stories listen to our podcast to find out What You Need To Know

  • Protests and crime

After Extinction Rebellion was able to repeatedly bring London to a standstill, Prime Minister Johnson was keen to crack down disruptive protests.

The Our Public Order Bill will, according to the Queen's Speech, "give the police the powers they need to prevent a minority of protestors from using guerrilla tactics that cause misery to the hardworking public".

There'll be new laws passed to tackle protesters attaching themselves to others, objects and buildings, it will become illegal to "obstruct major transport works" and cause delays to the operation of key infrastructure.

Stop and search powers will be extended so police can "seize articles related to protest-related offences".

The PM also wants to crack down on economic crime and give police and intelligence agencies further ability to "tackle a growing and diversifying range of state threats".

There's also plans for a Victims Bill, which the government hopes would "strengthen rights for victims", however the legislation is so far just a draft.

The bill would "restore victims' confidence that their voices will be properly heard and that perpetrators will be brought to justice".

  • Selling Channel 4

The PM has been keen to sell Channel 4 for some time, and this Queen's Speech is a huge step towards privatising the broadcaster.

Mr Johnson says its sale will "will unleash the potential of the UK’s creative sector and we will publish measures to ensure that digital competition is fair for all".

The channel will be converted from a "statutory corporation to a new corporate structure that could be sold".

The government says Channel 4 will be "given the tools it needs to succeed in the future as a public service broadcaster while protecting its distinctiveness".

  • Funding the NHS and cutting the waiting list

Ministers are keen to address numerous issues with the NHS, which were made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government plans to spend more than £8 billion between 2022 and 2025, through the health and social care levy, which is being raised through and increase to national insurance.

"We must make sure that every penny is well spent," the government said, by increasing community pop up clinics, more face-to-face GP appointments, new cancer screening machines, and a hugely expanded mental health provision.

The plan to clear the backlogs commits the NHS to deliver "17 million more diagnostic tests over the next three years and to increase our annual capacity by nine million additional treatments and diagnostic procedures".

There's also a plan to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 and upgrade more than 70 further hospitals.

  • A plan to cut illegal immigration

One of the main reasons people voted for Brexit, according to polling, was to cut illegal immigration and it's one of the main priorities of Boris Johnson's government.

"Urgent change is needed to prevent evil people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk and to fix the broken global asylum system," the government said.

This includes the Rwanda immigration plan, which will see asylum seekers who enter the UK send to east Africa for processing.

The Royal Navy is taking over control the English Channel in a bid to cut illegal crossings and people smugglers will face life in prison.

  • What else was in the Queen's Speech?

Here are some more or the notable policies among the 38 bills mentioned in the speech.

- Measures to establish a UK Infrastructure Bank, with a capability of £22 billion to spend on measures to support the delivery of net zero emissions by 2050, grow the economy and address regional inequality.

- A Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will seek to drive local growth and regenerate towns and cities across England, including by enshrining the Government's levelling up "missions".

- The Harbours (Seafarers' Remuneration) Bill aims to deter companies repeating P&O's mass firing of staff by giving ports powers to refuse access to ferries not paying the UK minimum wage.

- An Energy Security Bill seeking to transition to cheaper and greener energy while aiming to minimise fluctuating bills, including by extending the price cap beyond 2023.

- Legislation to deal with the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which appears to be watered down to include immunity from prosecution for only those who cooperate with a new commission.

Where was the Queen?

Her Majesty was unable to attend the event due to “episodic mobility problems” which have led to her cancelling a number of other plans, including her attendance at the annual royal garden parties.

It is the first time she has missed the State Opening of Parliament in almost sixty years - and both previous absences were due to pregnancy.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow.

"At Her Majesty’s request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read The Queen’s Speech on Her Majesty’s behalf, with The Duke of Cambridge also in attendance."

Charles stepping in is a move which will be interpreted as a significant shift in his responsibilities as a king-in-waiting.

The Duke of Cambridge attended the State Opening for the first time, with the royal function of opening a new parliament delegated to both Charles and William by the Queen.