Headlines: November 25th, 1998

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech continued the agenda of change for managers across the public sector. Though much of the initial attention was on the constitutional reform planned for the House of Lords, the Government was keen to play up its continued attention to reforms it believes are of more relevance to the public.Among the 22 bills, the most detail emerging is on the Welfare Reform Bill. This will introduce stakeholder pensions, provisions for pension sharing for divorcing couples, create a single gateway to the benefit system for those of working age, introduce reforms to provision for people with disabilities or long-term illnesses and reform benefits for widows and widowers.

There is also a commitment to introduce the working families tax credit which will increase the take home pay of an estimated 1.5 million families.

As expected, the abolition of internal market in the NHS is promised, though the Institute of Health Service Managers has said it is disappointed that the focus appears to be on the medical professions rather than strong management in the revamped health service.

There is a commitment to reform the teaching profession, rewarding good teachers and boosting leadership.

On crime there are measures to overhaul our youth court system, introduce effective punishments for young offenders, and better protection for vulnerable witnesses.

There will also be a bill to reform local government finance and ensure the principle of seeking ‘best value’ for council taxpayers becomes a reality, which has been welcomed by the Local Government Association.

Lack of parliamentary time has led to only a draft a Bill in this session on internal management of councils and ethics.

Also notably missing from the programme are measures originally promised on integrated transport.