It’s now been just over a month since David Cameron delivered the first Queen’s Speech of the current parliament, and his first as Prime Minister of a Conservative majority Government.
At the time, there was much excitement and contention around the speech and its impacts on the private rented sector. But, what’s happened since, and have any of the policies mentioned come to action?
Last year, the Immigration Act 2014 introduced the ‘right to rent checks’ that piloted across the West Midlands. The Immigration Bill will roll this out right across the UK, ensuring all landlords and letting agents check the immigration status of their tenants or prospective tenants.
With the Government pledging wholesale crackdowns on illegal immigration and measures to reduce migration to the UK, it’s thought that the Immigration Bill will be a priority for the Government, particularly in light of current issues in France and the Mediterranean.
There is, however, some concern that other areas of the Bill may lead to worker exploitation and undercutting, which means that the Bill will be hotly debated in parliament, and could delay its passing.
In 2014, David Cameron was reliant on opposition MPs to pass the legislation, and many think he won’t be as fortunate this time. With only a small majority, passing legislation like this may prove tricky.
National Insurance Contributions and Finance Bill
This tax lock commitment will freeze income tax rates, national insurance and VAT for five years, while also increasing the personal income tax threshold to £12,500. Overall, this bill will affect everyone in the UK who pays income tax, but it’ll also affect those who employ others.
This legislation is in the process of being brought forward and presented to the House of Commons for debate, so keep a look out over the coming months as it appears likely to come sooner rather than later.
Relevant to landlords and tenants alike, the Housing Bill will extend Right to Buy to over one million housing association tenants. Being one of the flagship policies mentioned by the Conservative Party in their 2015 manifesto, several announcements about the progress of the bill are already being made.
Critics of the Bill, however, are not going down without a fight and, as a result, its ascension through Parliament may be troublesome unless the Conservative Party can prove that it will go far enough towards meeting the demand for housing. Originally, it had been pledged to be presented to parliament within 100 days, so watch this space.
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
The Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill is pressing ahead as planned. This is unsurprising to many as the Conservative Party campaigned heavily in the run-up to the election on reducing the benefits bill and the cost to the taxpayer.
Some consultation appears to be ongoing on ways that the size of the bill can be reduced, but the central theme of the bill is to limit the household benefits cap to £23,000 and to freeze various benefits - including child benefits, working-age benefits and tax credits - for a period of two years.
If you’re a landlord who currently has tenants in receipt of any of these benefits, or tenants who rely on them to supplement their income, then it’s worth tracking the evolution of this bill as it may affect their ability to pay rent, squeezing affordability.
Only a month into the new parliament and we’re already beginning to see action taken on the policies mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, along with divisions between and within the parties.
Although nothing has come into law yet, debate on many issues is in full flow, with all four of the bills mentioned likely to be passed within the course of the parliament.
We’ll keep you posted on any future developments – keep an eye on our blog to find out more as and when the news happens. In the meantime, if you’re confused about how any of the changes may affect you, take a look at the Government’s helpful guide here.
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All information correct as of 02/07/2015