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  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Challenges faced by people with disabilities

    People with disabilities can face additional barriers when trying to access services. The World Health Organisation has stated disability comes from these barriers rather the related impairment. Barriers can include online services that are not accessible, infrastructure that can be physically inaccessible and attitudinal barriers. The government has introduced policies to help address these barriers but disability charities have argued these have not been sufficient.

  • House of Lords Library

    Research Briefing

    Pet Abduction Bill: HL Bill 62 of 2023–24

    The Pet Abduction Bill is a House of Commons private member’s bill. It would create two new offences of dog and cat abduction, and give ministers powers to create similar offences for other pet species. It has government and cross-party support.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Child poverty: Statistics, causes and the UK’s policy response

    The government has estimated that 4.3 million children, or 30% of all children in the UK, were living in relative low-income households after housing costs in 2022/23. This represents an increase on the previous year. The government has said unexpectedly high inflation, driven by the war in Ukraine and supply chain challenges, contributed to the rise. It argues that falling inflation, rising real wages and uprated benefits will help low-income households in the year ahead.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Customs and traditions: The mace

    The mace is a staff of office symbolising the authority of the sovereign in Parliament. A mace is carried to the Lords and the Commons chambers in a procession at the beginning and end of each sitting day. In the Lords, it rests on the woolsack behind the lord speaker during proceedings. As is the case in the Commons, the Lords may not conduct business in the chamber whilst it is not present. But where did this custom and tradition come from and are maces found in other parliaments?

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Long-term sustainability of the NHS: Options for systems and funding

    In response to recent pressures in the NHS, there has been debate about the sustainability of the NHS and its funding model. In preparation for a House of Lords debate on this topic, this briefing examines the UK’s taxation-based health care model and alternative models (such as social health insurance and private health insurance) used in other countries.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Poverty in the UK: Government policy

    There were approximately 11 million people in the UK in relative poverty (before housing costs) in 2021/22. Many people on low incomes receive cash benefits, such as universal credit, and other benefits such as free school meals. In its levelling up strategy the government set out measures to address poverty; these include increasing the number of high-paying jobs and improving access to good quality education and skills training.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Where have all the workers gone?: Economic Affairs Committee report

    In December 2022, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published the outcome of its inquiry on the size of the UK labour market. The committee said that economic inactivity had increased during the coronavirus pandemic and that early retirement among 50 to 64-year-olds was a key driver of the increase. The government responded to the committee report in May 2023. It highlighted a range of measures announced in the 2023 spring budget to improve workforce participation.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Calls for a UK industrial strategy

    The UK last set out a formal industrial strategy in 2017. Since 2021, the government has instead pursued various plans for growth. This briefing provides details on the UK’s industrial policies, commentary on the benefits and use of industrial strategies, and brief statistics about UK industry.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    UK biosecurity: Infectious disease threats

    This briefing considers the impact of factors such as globalisation and climate change on the prevalence of various infectious diseases in the UK affecting humans, animals and plants. The briefing also summarises the government’s ‘Biological security strategy’ (June 2023), which provides the overarching framework for mitigating biological risks among other area-focused strategies. The government has also said that import controls are an important element of the UK’s biosecurity regime.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Life beyond Covid-19: Lords Covid-19 Committee’s recommendations for long-term resilience and wellbeing

    In a report published in early 2022, the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee called for a “reset” of the state through a new emphasis on governing for the long-term and a new focus on wellbeing. The committee’s recommendations spanned a range of policy areas, from addressing health disparities and supporting families through to expanding devolution and improving public service resilience and preparedness. The government responded to the committee’s recommendations in July 2022.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Welfare

    The government has not signalled a specific welfare bill for the upcoming King’s Speech. However, it has committed to make some reforms to the benefits system that may require legislation. These include measures to reduce benefits fraud and error, and changes to the enforcement of child maintenance payments.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Culture, media and sport

    This briefing provides details on government proposals for media legislation and regulation of football and the gambling sector. The government has published consultations and papers on these subjects and therefore they may come up in the 2023 King’s Speech. The briefing also links to further reading and briefly summarises other subjects that may be touched upon involving the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Education

    There have been a number of high-profile announcements regarding education in the last year, such as proposed changes to A-levels and T-levels announced in October 2023. However, it is unclear when these measures will be introduced. Elements of the Schools Bill, abandoned during the 2022–23 parliamentary session, will likely be included in the 2023 King’s Speech. Notably, the government has indicated it intends to introduce a register of children not in school.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Fast-tracking legislation

    Fast-tracked bills are those which complete all their parliamentary stages in a shortened timescale. Reasons for using the process include correcting an error in legislation or responding to unforeseen circumstances. However, issues such as pressure on the procedural process and a lack of parliamentary scrutiny have been identified with fast-tracking. This article explores how and why bills are fast-tracked.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Value added tax (VAT) at 50

    The 50th anniversary of the UK’s value added tax (VAT) occurred on 1 April 2023. VAT was introduced in anticipation of the UK’s entry to the European Economic Community and has since become one of the government’s largest revenue raisers. This article examines the history of VAT and the debate about how it has developed.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Covid-19 Committee report: ‘Beyond digital: Planning for a hybrid world’

    In 2020 and 2021 the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee conducted an inquiry into the long-term impact of people living more of their lives online as a result of the pandemic. This article summarises the committee’s findings and the government’s response to its report ahead of a House of Lords debate on the report.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Membership of the House of Lords: July 2023 update

    The House of Lords has no fixed number of seats, and numbers can change week by week based on those leaving or joining the House. This article provides a snapshot of membership and composition in July 2023 and statistics on appointments and departures since 2014. It also considers recent concerns about the increasing size of the House and calls for reform, including recommendations from the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House.

  • House of Lords Library

    In Focus

    Economic growth, inflation and productivity

    Economic growth is considered important due to the role it plays in providing jobs and improving living standards. But productivity growth, a key driver of higher living standards, has slowed in the UK since 2008. With high inflation now impacting living standards, increased attention is being paid to understanding and tackling the productivity slowdown. The House of Lords is due to debate the UK economy on 29 June 2023.

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