The Queen’s Speech lasted eight minutes, but was accompanied by a 103-page briefing pack outlining the policy agenda for the newly-elected majority Conservative government.
Much we already knew, but there are some interesting nuggets of information. Here we take a look at the key themes.
1. Cuts to come - but tax breaks too.
The speech really tooted the government’s horn on the economy, flagging up that the UK was the fastest growing major advanced economy last year after growing at 2.8 per cent, the best perfomance since 2006.
But make no mistake: as was forewarned in the Tory election manifesto there is some way to go to fix finances which still include a 4.8 per cent deficit. There will be cuts to come, including a £23,000 welfare cap and restriction in jobseekers to under-21s, part of £12bn in welfare savings.
Departmental savings on top of this will be significant - and the government has tied its hands on taxation by locking income tax, VAT or national insurance to prevent further tax rises.
It also previously announced that the personal tax-free allowance will be increased to £12,500, with legislation set to be brought forward to ensure people working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage do not pay income tax. It’s also going to put an extra £8bn into the NHS.
Squaring this circle will not be easy. Look out for new so-called ‘stealth’ taxes later - and departmental secretaries will already be sweating over the pain they will have to take on their budgets.
2. Scotland will have wide-ranging powers.
The government will bring forward legislation to secure a strong and lasting constitutional settlement, “devolving wide-ranging powers to Scotland”.
The accompanying document said the Scotland Bill will enable the Scottish parliament to set the thresholds and rates of income tax on earnings in Scotland and keep all the money raised in Scotland.
More power means more responsibility and the Scottish parliament will be more accountable to the Scottish public. The Scottish parliament will be responsible for raising around 40 per cent of Scotland’s taxes and for deciding around 60 per cent of its public spending.
Of course, for the nationalists this isn’t enough. They want something between this and full fiscal autonomy - and are already accusing the government of failing to respond to the will of people at the election.
3. Triple-lock renewed.
The previous government introduced the ‘triple lock’, which has seen pensioners received a 2.5 per cent increase in the basic state pension this April and the full rate increased to £115.95 a week. The state pension has now risen to the highest share of average earnings for over two decades.
The government confirmed the triple-lock will continue to apply to the state pension for the duration of this Parliament. However Kate Smith, Aegon’s regulatory strategy manager, questioned whether the triple-lock will apply to the new single tier pension from April 2016.