The Queen opened Parliament by setting out the Government’s legislative priorities for the year.
The Queen’s Speech took place at the state opening of the new Parliament on 18 May 2016. The speech announced the introduction of a number of new Bills and legislation, setting out the Government’s legislative priorities for the year ahead.
Among the announcements and updates on Bills are:
Criminal Finances Bill
HMRC are currently consulting on draft legislation for a new corporate offence of failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion. This legislation will make up part of this Bill, which will make it a criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion.
The Pensions Bill will introduce new regulatory requirements for Master Trust pension schemes, with greater powers for the Pensions Regulator to supervise these schemes. It will also remove some remaining barriers to pensions flexibility, and introduce a new pensions guidance body.
Small Charitable Donations Bill
Following a Government call for evidence and consultation on the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS), which allows charities to claim 25 percent cash on donations under £20, this Bill will simplify the GASDS scheme for newer and smaller charities, which is intended to reduce their administrative burden and make the scheme fairer.
Lifetime Savings Bill
As announced at the Budget, this Bill will allow adults under age 40 to open a Lifetime ISA and save up to £4,000 a year for their first home or retirement; a 25 percent Government top up will be payable on savings made up to age 50. The Bill will also include ‘Help to Save’ incentives and bonuses for those on working tax credits or Universal Credit, to encourage low income families to save.
Soft Drinks Industry Levy
The Government has reiterated its commitment to introducing a levy on water-based sweetened soft drinks to be paid by producers and importers of those drinks, with income from the levy to be used to fund sports programs and breakfast clubs in schools. A technical consultation on the levy will be held shortly, and legislation to introduce the levy will be included in the Finance Bill 2017.
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