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Queen's Speech sets out blueprint for right to buy and devolution

Legislation for the extension of right to buy and devolution to cities will be brought forward by the government after plans were laid out in the Queen’s Speech today.

New regulations for small businesses were also announced, including the creation of a Small Business Conciliation Service to help resolve business-to-business disputes, especially over late payment.

The legislation also set out a target of saving £10bn through “cutting red tape” for businesses.

The speech included plans to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants, while legislation will be put into place to increase energy security and bring forward devolution deals for cities.

The Housing Bill will include “the necessary statutory framework” to support the delivery of Starter Homes, which will be offered to young first-time buyers at 20 per cent below their market value.

Further legislation will introduce a statutory register for brownfield land, with the aim of getting development orders in place on 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites by 2020.

The government will continue to push forward with legislation for high-speed rail links “to different parts of the country”, while helping to “build a Northern powerhouse”.

The High Speed Rail Bill, focused on the construction of phase one of HS2, would give the government powers to compulsorily acquire or temporarily take possession of land required for the scheme.

In addition, it would give the government deemed planning permission for the line between London and the West Midlands upon becoming an act.

A referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was promised “before the end of 2017”.

On employment, ministers will now be required to report annually on job creation and apprenticeship numbers.

Those working up to 30 hours a week on minimum wage will not pay income tax, and there will be no increase in income tax or VAT during the course of the next parliament.

Additionally, consultation will be carried out on funding apprenticeship schemes for British and EU workers by implementing a new visa levy on businesses that use foreign labour.

Commenting on the Devolution Bill, British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said it was a “welcome step forward”, highlighting its “enormous potential” for the property industry.

“We would like to see the government take this forward by appraising government initiatives and focusinh on devolution across the whole country, not just in relation to the Northern powerhouse,” she added.

“We urge government to allow all areas of the UK, not just those with a mayor, to be able to benefit from these new, devolved powers.”

Chartered Institute of Housing deputy chief executive Gavin Smart argued that the extension of right to buy could potentially “make things worse”.

“It would have a huge impact both on housing associations and on local authorities, as councils would have to sell off their most valuable homes to fund replacements,” he said.

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