Charities criticise Queen’s Speech for 'lack of action to tackle cost-of-living crisis'

Charities have criticised the Queen’s Speech saying it lacks policy initiatives needed to help vulnerable communities tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The government’s blueprint for the next parliamentary session outlined plans to give councils more powers to let out empty shops, finance infrastructure projects and reform data protection law.

But charities are concerned about a lack of detail to help vulnerable families tackle escalating inflation.

Already charities are reporting a surge in demand for their services amid worsening inequalities.

Balbir Kaur Chatrik, director of policy at homeless young people’s charity Centrepoint, said that “it is particularly disappointing to see no commitment from the government on further policies that would protect vulnerable young people in the current cost of living crisis”.

She would like to have seen an increase in Universal Credit “to ensure those at the sharp end of this crisis are given the best opportunity to thrive”.

"The government talked today about there being enough pain relief for those struggling. Sadly, precious little of that has reached the most vulnerable young people and there was nothing in the speech for those who are missing meals and selling possessions as they try to avoid further debt and make ends meet,” added Chatrik.

Meanwhile, Save the Children said the Queen’s Speech was a “missed opportunity to help families” to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The charity’s director of UK impact Dan Paskins said: “The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency the UK government should be dealing with right now. The Queen's Speech was a major opportunity to support those most affected by rising costs, and the government didn’t take it.

“Families we work with are skipping meals, rationing their power and taking on unsustainable levels of debt. But again, instead of taking serious action ministers have buried their heads in the sand.

“Families can’t wait any longer for support. The government must commit to increasing benefits in line with inflation as soon as possible, and no later than the autumn budget. It’s an essential step, which will immediately help hard-pressed families to weather the crisis.

Elsewhere, Working Families is concerned that plans mooted in 2019 for an Employment Bill, to offer new protection for workers and boost flexible working, have not been included in the Queen’s Speech.

It said: “Having promised to make flexible working the default, to provide workers in insecure jobs with rights to have more predictable schedules, to extend redundancy protections, to reduce pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and to offer neo-natal care and carers leave, there is still no sign of the Employment Bill.

“These reforms, which the Government recognised the importance of in 2019, would transform the lives of working people with caring responsibilities.”

Concern over “systematic gutting” of freedoms

The Queen’s Speech, which was read by Prince Charles as the Queen was unable to attend parliament for health reasons, also outlined plans to introduce a Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act and a Public Order Bill, to give police new powers to halt disruptive protests.

Amnesty International UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said the measures are a “systematic gutting of key legal protections”.

“Scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a narrower, meaner Bill of Rights will make it even harder for ordinary people to challenge mistreatment at the hands of the state,” he said.

He added: “It’s frightening to see the Home Secretary demonising people who are simply exercising their right to peaceful protest.”

Also announced in the Queen’s speech is plans for a bill to overhaul the mental health system in England and Wales.

While Race Equality Foundation chief executive Jabeer Butt said reform was “long overdue”, any changes “need to show real and material change”.

“We also need to see better support for family members, as well as addressing the wider determinants that exacerbate mental health inequalities, such as poverty, comparatively poorer housing, greater risk of being in fragile employment and living in areas where GP practices are more likely to be poorly rated while also more likely to receive less funding per patient. A systemic problem needs systemic change,” added Butt.

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