The Queen’s Speech 2013: Government And Law

In yesterday’s speech the Queen talked about her government’s plan for the coming year, mentioning some bills and draft bills which are still not entirely introduced.

The aim of these bills is to reduce criminal offenses, such as the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

The last one is considered to renew police powers and emphasize on the rights of victims, telling them the proper ways that their perpetrators will be punished.The same is the case with the employment law and the employment documents.

Some new offenses will also be included in the bill. Some of them are the offenses for forced marriage, ownership of dangerous dogs and illegal firearms. Another thing which will change is that after police receives complaints from five different households on anti-social behaviour, it will have to act immediately.

Another bill the Queen talked about was the Offender Rehabilitation Bill the aim of which is reducing incidents of re-offending as there will be a year-long period of probation for any offender who serves a custodial sentence of fewer than 12 months. Nowadays, offenders with the same sentence as the mentioned one do not receive probationary period. Those offenders whose sentences are now between 1-2 years receive probation period lasting about 6 months and for the future they will also receive 12 months.

The Defence Reform Bill also appeared in the speech of the Queen. It has to “improve the way this country procures defence equipment, as well as strengthening the Reserve Forces”.

According to the government the size of the UK’s reserve forces needs to be increased so that more money could be saved. You can save money by using legal document templates,too.

Talking about the pensions system her Majesty said that new laws will “create a simpler state pension system that encourages saving and provides more help to those who have spent years caring for children”.




Living Wage Standard – Key Factor in Ed Miliband`s Campaign

A few days ago, The Legal Stop informed you about The Living Wage Discussions. now they are in the focus of the news again as the Labour leader – Ed Miliband declared that a minimum  living wage of about £7.45 (compared to the current £6.19) will be a key concept for his campaign

Of course, the employers will not be obliged to pay the minimum living wage, however Labour are working on developing strategies, which will encourage them to do so. Plans include government contracts only to firms, paying the living wage standard and the controversial idea of naming and shaming companies, which fail to pay their workers the minimum living wage. The living wage in London and the rest of the country is different , due to the high living costs in London. It would rise to about £8,55 per hour, according to the Labour plans.

“It is about giving people a proper stake in the future of the country,” explained Miliband.“You go out, slog your guts out… you deserve a decent wage if the company can afford it.“We’ve got a growth crisis in Britain, but we’ve also got a living standards crisis because the proceeds of economic growth are not being fairly distributed any more.”

There is a great benefit for the country, if employers pay the minimum living wage, people who work, but still get benefits will increase their income, which will help reduce the number of people, dependant by the state. An independent research by the Fiscal Studies estimated that the government will save £1,00 per year for each person receiving the minimum wage. Some companies have already applied for the for license to bear the Living Wage employer Mark. Up to now, The Living Wage Foundation has accredited almost 100 UK employers with the mark.


Weaknesses Found in The Contract Between Atos and the Government

Auditors from National Audit Office (NAO) have found “weaknesses” in the contract between Atos, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments and the government.

NAO found weaknesses in the agreement, which include bad performance and not providing good value for money. The National Audit Office criticised Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions (DwP) for setting performance targets too low, failing to adequately fine Atos for poor performance and not properly checking the accuracy of performance data that Atos submitted.

Despite the criticisms, the Paralympics Sponsor – Atos was recently awarded a £400m contract to conduct the medical re-assessments of  Employment and Support Allowance benefit claimants to establish whether or not they are fit for work.

This was initiated in 2008 under the Labour government scheme. It has been accepted with significant controversy and resistance, with recent figures showing wrong decisions in about 40% of the time. The NAO said it was unclear whether the quality of the tests was to blame for the number of wrong decisions and that there was insufficient data to make a statement on this.

DWP admitted that Atos was breaching the deadlines with failing to complete some fitness testing and since nid-2011 their performance was not satisfying – “below the standard”. DWP has been criticised by NAO for not taking efficient measures on time by seeking “financial  redress” from Atos for their bad-performed services. After the audit, NAO concluded that only 10% of the poor-performance penalties had been applied.

The NAO criticised the DWP for not seeking “financial redress” for these delays, saying just 10% of the penalties triggered by poor performance had been applied.

But a DWP Secretary Iain Duncan Smith claimed that the agreement was reviewed regularly  and had been “substantially improved” over the past two years. He also said: “It is a complicated area, but we are committed to making it a success to ensure it is both fair and accurate for the user and value for money for the taxpayer.”