Government targets planning and housing plus brings in a surprise Apprenticeships Bill

Apprenticeships, employment, housing and the planning system will be at the centre of the government’s agenda for the coming year.

Many of the Bills announced in this morning’s Queen’s Speech were set out in Gordon Brown’s ‘pre-Queen’s Speech’ statement in July, but there were a few surprise additions to the legislative programme.

Chief amongst these was a draft Apprenticeships Bill which will give extra duties and responsibilities to Learning and Skills Councils to provide 500,000 apprenticeships by 2020.

There will also be an Employment Bill, not mentioned in the speech but released by Parliament, which is designed to increase protection for vulnerable workers, strengthen employment agency standards, and enforce the National Minimum Wage.

The plans laid out in this morning’s Queen’s Speech also include a Planning Reform Bill to streamline the planning system and a Housing Bill to set out exactly how the government will build 3m new homes by 2020.

The Planning Reform Bill will introduce a single consents regime making it easier for major infrastructure projects such as airports and new towns to receive approval.

The Housing Bill will allow for the introduction of the new Homes and Communities Agency, which will take over the responsibilities of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation.

Also on the programme for this year is the Climate Change Bill, which will legally bind government to a 60% carbon reduction target by 2050.

As previously announced by Gordon Brown, the Planning Gain Supplement Bill has been dropped from this year’s Parliamentary business.

The Crossrail Bill is also on the books for the parliamentary year. If approved, construction work on the cross-London line would finally get the green light.