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Business groups voice concerns over Queen’s Speech


Business groups have expressed concerns over the recent Queen’s Speech, with many arguing that the measures do not go far enough to boost economic growth.


Opening the new parliament, the Queen said the Government’s first priority was to ‘reduce the deficit and restore economic stability’.


She outlined a total of 19 pieces of legislation, ranging from enterprise and regulatory reform, to measures aimed at supporting children and families. She also confirmed the Government’s plans to implement banking reform, along with the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.


The measures have prompted criticism from some business leaders, with John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), suggesting that the Speech ‘could have been bolder’.


While it welcomed some of the Government’s proposals, such as the reform of employment tribunals, the BCC raised concerns over plans to impose new legislative requirements on businesses.


‘On balance, business will welcome some of the Government’s proposed legislative measures, but express serious reservations about others. Positive steps such as reform to employment tribunals and red tape reductions could be undermined by complex new burdens around shared parental leave, for example,’ said Longworth.


‘Ministers could have been bolder by including legislation to establish a British business bank, to further simplify dismissal rules, and to progress the construction of our high-speed rail network.’


The Children and Families Bill could see new parents given the right to ‘share’ blocks of parental leave, by allowing women to transfer some of their maternity leave entitlement to the baby's father.


But the Forum of Private Business (FPB) echoed the BCC’s concerns over the new entitlement, warning that it will add to the ‘burden’ on employers.


The FPB’s Senior Policy Advisor, Phil McCabe, said: ‘Perhaps the most concerning aspect of today's Queen's Speech for many small business owners is the plan to shake-up maternity leave by letting mums or dads mix and match time off with the new arrival. Nice concept in theory, but the paperwork and organisation will frankly not be welcomed by most business owners.


‘While flexible working is good for some businesses, firms should not be compelled into providing it if it doesn't suit,’ he added.


However, the lobby group did welcome plans to introduce an independent adjudicator to ensure supermarkets deal fairly and lawfully with suppliers, stating that the move would ‘go some way to rebalancing the relationship’.