• In Focus

    UK-India trade agreement: Scrutiny of the government’s negotiating objectives

    The UK and India are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. In July 2022, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee published a report on the government’s negotiating objectives. The report welcomed the aspiration to secure a trade deal with India. However, the committee was critical of some aspects of the negotiating objectives as vague, high level and, in some cases, unachievable. The report also criticised the speed of the negotiations, which the government wants to complete by October 2022.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Social Policy (July 2022)

    Why are childcare costs in the UK so high? This article looks at some of the reasons for the increase in UK childcare costs since 2010, which are among the highest in the OECD. The government has recently announced a consultation on loosening staff to child ratios for childcare providers. However, there has been criticism of the proposals from some parts of the childcare sector.

  • In Focus

    China: Security challenges to the UK

    On 6 July 2022, the British and US intelligence services jointly said China would pose the biggest security threat facing the West over the next decade. Relations between China and the UK have deteriorated in recent years and experts have expressed concern over Chinese ambitions in several areas. This article provides a brief overview of recent UK-China relations and those security threats.

  • Research Briefing

    Social Security (Additional Payments) Bill: HL Bill 34 of 2022-23

    On 27 June 2022, the second reading and all remaining stages of the Social Security (Additional Payments) Bill are scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. The bill gives effect to the cost of living support measures for benefits claimants announced as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement to the House of Commons on 26 May 2022.

  • Research Briefing

    Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 7 of 2022-23

    On 8 July 2022, the second reading of the Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill [HL] is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. The bill is a private member’s bill introduced by the Bishop of Durham. The bill would disapply provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, as amended by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, which implemented the two-child limit to universal credit.

  • In Focus

    Pig farming industry in England

    Pig farmers have faced a number of pressures in recent months, including labour shortages and rising costs of production. The National Pig Association has described the situation as a “crisis”. This article summarises the findings of a recent House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on labour shortages in the farming sector. In addition, it explores reaction to the government’s package of support measures for the pig industry.

  • Research Briefing

    Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill [HL]

    The Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill is a government bill that is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 24 May 2022. The bill would amend the special rules to allow those with a terminal illness to receive certain disability-related benefits if they have less than 12 months to live (as opposed to the current six months).

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Welfare and pensions

    This article looks at possible announcements in the upcoming Queen’s Speech relating to pensions and benefits. No major piece of welfare or pensions legislation has been pre-announced by the Government. However, it has committed to introduce measures that may require primary or secondary legislation. These include: reintroducing managed migration to universal credit; reforming the eligibility rules for benefits claimants with terminal illness; and reducing the minimum age for pensions auto-enrolment.

  • In Focus

    Changes to the Highway Code on using a mobile phone while driving: regret motion

    The Government has recently broadened the scope of Highway Code rule 149, which now makes it an offence to use a hand-held mobile device for almost any purpose while driving, not just to make and receive calls and texts. The House of Lords is due to debate a regret motion on the changes. The motion raises concerns about their scope and the “piecemeal” way the Highway Code was being amended.

  • In Focus

    Unpaid taxes: the ‘tax gap’

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) produces estimates of the tax gap—the tax revenue HMRC should receive but does not. Its most recent estimate for 2019/20 is £35 billion, or approximately 5% of total tax liabilities. As a percentage of total taxes, the gap has been declining in recent years. The Government’s tax strategy includes measures to reduce it further. However, some commentators have argued these need more careful consideration.

  • In Focus

    National Insurance Contributions (Increase of Thresholds) Bill

    The National Insurance Contributions (Increase of Thresholds) Bill is being fast tracked through Parliament to implement increases to national insurance thresholds announced in the March 2022 spring statement. There was broad cross-party support for the bill when it completed all its House of Commons stages on 24 March 2022. However, opposition MPs criticised the spring statement for not providing enough targeted support to those on low incomes affected by the rising cost of living.

  • In Focus

    Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2022: regret motion

    The House of Lords will soon consider a regret motion on the draft Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2022. The order would increase some welfare benefits by around 3% from April 2022. At a time when inflation has increased significantly, the uprating has been criticised for not meeting the rising cost of living.