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    Key policies from King’s Speech as Labour unveils promises for new Parliament

    King Charles III’s speech marked the state opening of Parliament with the new Labour government on Wednesday, 17 July.Sir Keir Starmer’s pledges, which the party says will “take the brakes of Britain,” were announced by the monarch inside the House of Lords.The speech is written by the government and read out in a neutral tone by the monarch, allowing the winning party to outline its priorities for the next parliament.Wednesday was be the first Speech from the Throne under a Labour government for 14 years. More

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    Watch: Labour plans unveiled as King’s Speech marks state opening of Parliament

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorWatch as King Charles III’s speech marked the state opening of Parliament with the new Labour government on Wednesday, 17 July.Sir Keir Starmer’s pledges, which the party says will “take the brakes of Britain,” were announced by the monarch inside the House of Lords.The speech is written by the government and read out in a neutral tone by the monarch, allowing the winning party to outline its priorities for the next parliament.Wednesday was be the first Speech from the Throne under a Labour government for 14 years.It contained more than 35 bills and draft bills aimed at improving transport, creating jobs and accelerating the building of houses and infrastructure as the government seeks to turn round Britain’s recent cycle of low growth.Only 22 bills were put forward the last time there was a change of government in 2010.Charles delivered the speech, the second of his reign, at around 11.30am on Wednesday. More

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    Join The Independent’s free UK politics WhatsApp group for the latest news sent to your phone

    The Independent has launched a brand new WhatsApp Community, bringing you the latest UK politics news.Never miss a big story as our dedicated political team will keep you informed on the latest breaking news, features and must-watch videos.You can expect breaking news alerts, exclusive interviews, cutting-edge opinion from our commentators and leading analysis from our award-winning journalists.To sign up to our free service all you need to do is follow the simple steps below:How to join The Independent’s WhatsApp community( More

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    Data watchdog reprimands Hackney council over cyber attack

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorThe UK’s data protection regulator has issued a reprimand to the London Borough of Hackney over its handling of a cyber attack.The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the council had “failed to effectively implement sufficient measures” to protect its systems from attack.The borough was targeted by hackers in October 2020 in an attack which saw cyber criminals gain access to and encrypt 440,000 files, affecting at least 280,000 residents and other individuals. It included personal information related to religious beliefs, health, criminal records, economic data and details of sexual orientation, among other personal identifiers.According to the ICO, more than 9,600 records were exfiltrated from the council’s systems, which posed a “meaningful risk of harm” to 230 people.The ICO said the cyber attack also substantially disrupted the council’s operations, with some services not returning to normal until 2022.In its investigation into the breach, the data protection regulator found security patches had not been properly applied to all devices, and the council had failed to change an insecure password on a dormant account that was still connected to its servers, which was exploited by the hackers.Stephen Bonner, deputy commissioner of the ICO, said: “This was a clear and avoidable error from London Borough of Hackney, one that has resulted in a mass loss of data and has had a severely detrimental impact on many residents.“At its absolute worst, this has meant that some of the most deeply personal information possible has ended up in the hands of the attackers.If we want people to have trust in local authorities, they need to trust that local authorities will look after their data properlyStephen Bonner, Information Commissioner’s Office“Systems that people rely on were offline for many months. This is entirely unacceptable and should not have happened.“Whilst nefarious actors may always exist, the council failed to effectively implement sufficient measures that could have better protected their systems and data from cyber attacks.“Anyone responsible for protecting personal data should not make simple mistakes like having dormant accounts where the username and password are the same. Time and time again, we see breaches that would not have happened if such mistakes were avoided.“If we want people to have trust in local authorities, they need to trust that local authorities will look after their data properly.“Hackney residents have learnt the hard way the consequences for these errors – councils across the country should act now to ensure that those they are responsible for do not suffer the same fate.”Following the attack, the ICO said the borough took a number of remedial steps, including ensuring all residents were aware of the incident and promptly engaging with the relevant authorities.The regulator also acknowledged the council had sought to update its security patch management system prior to the attack, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the council’s staff and resources, and it commended the borough for its good governance structures.It said because of this and the positive actions taken by Hackney council to mitigate harm, a reprimand has been issued rather than a fine.“The council took swift and comprehensive action to mitigate the harm of the attack as soon as it learned it had taken place, including through their engagement with NCSC (The National Cyber Security Centre), and has taken a number of positive steps since,” Mr Bonner said.“There is a vital learning from this for both Hackney and for councils across the country – systems must be updated; you have to take preventative measures to reduce the risk and potential impact of human error, and you must ensure that data that is entrusted to you is protected.”In response, a spokesperson for Hackney council said: “While we welcome the ICO completing its investigation, we maintain that the council has not breached its security obligations.“We consider that the ICO has misunderstood the facts and misapplied the law with respect to the issues in question, and has mischaracterised and exaggerated the risk to residents’ data.“However, we do not believe it is in our residents’ interests to use our limited resources to challenge the ICO’s decision.“Instead, we will continue to work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, central Government and colleagues across local government and the wider public sector to play our part in defending public services against the ever-increasing threats of cyber attack and to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of our residents.“Modern IT systems are extremely complex and cyber threats continue to grow. Since 2020, organisations of all sizes in the public and private sector have fallen victim to criminals deploying ever more complex and sophisticated modes of cyber attack.“To meet this rapidly changing threat, we have been investing and rebuilding our systems to further accelerate the delivery of our strategy of using the most modern and secure systems possible.“We have worked closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police to identify, contact and help those who were significantly affected by the cyber attack, and the ICO has recognised our robust and transparent response.” More

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    Starmer delivers ‘change’ with focus on Generation Rent in King’s speech

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorA generational shift in British political priorities has been delivered in the first King’s speech by a Labour government for 14 years.Sir Keir Starmer campaigned during the election with a promise that he will “change the country” like he changed the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn and set out today how he intends to achieve this.During Tory rule, the focus had been on the baby boomer generation protecting pensions and home ownership.But in a King’s Speech which referenced 35 bills, Starmer’s Labour has put the focus on “generation rent” as he pledged to “take the brakes off Britain” with plans to break the deadlock on affordable housing, protections for renters, restoration of workplace rights and a push to restore trust in British institutions.The first King’s Speech of the new Labour government took place (Aaron Chown/PA) More

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    Starmer warned new pension bill will fail to tackle long-term pensions crisis

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorSir Keir Starmer has been warned his new pensions bill will fail to tackle the crisis facing retirees, with the prime minister having ducked an increase in automatic enrolment.In his first King’s Speech, the PM unveiled plans to support more than 15m people with private pensions and ensure they get better outcomes.Sir Keir said the bill would boost the amount available for pension savers and help average earners save an additional £11,000 over the course of their career.The pensions schemes bill included measures to prevent people losing track of pension pots, ensure workers are saving into pension schemes that deliver value for money and consolidate the defined benefit pensions market through so-called commercial superfunds.The government estimates that the measures will lead to pension pots being around 9 per cent higher by the time a person retires, while allowing more productive investment of funds in British infrastructure and companies to boost growth.Investment platform AJ Bell, said the bill will “put millions of people’s pension pots at the heart of the new government’s drive to boost investment in the UK and drive long-term economic growth”.Public policy director Tom Selby said the government also appears “intent on pushing forward with greater consolidation of pension schemes”, in part to improve the value members receive.But he said claims the measures in the bill will lead to bigger pensions upon retirement “need to be taken with a pinch of salt” due to risks in how funds are invested.And he warned: “One key thing missing from this Bill is any mention of scaling up automatic enrolment.”Mr Selby pointed to “wide agreement” in the sector that minimum contributions under auto-enrolment will need to rise, while a 2017 review recommended removing the lower earnings band and reducing the minimum qualifying age to 18 to help savers.“The legislation for these changes is already in place – but the big question is when will it be put into practice?” he added.Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb meanwhile said the pension schemes bill represented “business as usual”. The former Lib Dem MP, now a partner at consultancy LPC, said millions with pension pots slightly over £1,000 will still struggle with savings “scattered across the pensions landscape”, adding that “further action may be needed”.He added: “There appears to be nothing in the legislation that so far represents a distinctively ‘Labour party approach’ to pensions, and a Conservative minister could happily have brought forward this legislation.  Perhaps inevitably, it will take time before we see how the new government’s agenda differs from that of its predecessor.“But this does mean that any distinctive policies will have to await legislation later in this Parliament and may take time to have effect.”Sir Steve has previously warned that “without urgent action we are likely to see more and more people facing an unenviable choice between an extended working life or a poor retirement”.Rising living costs, particularly for food and energy bills, as well as shifting expectations about retirement lifestyles have driven a huge increase in retirement costs. More

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    From the two-child benefit cap to votes at 16: What was missing in Labour’s first King’s Speech?

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorKing Charles gave his King’s Speech today, marking the opening of parliament as the first Labour government in 14 years is ushered in.As is tradition, the speech gave the new government an opportunity to lay out their plans for the coming months in the form of legislative bills. Sir Keir Starmer took the chance to signal his desire for change, as a massive 39 bills were announced overall.Amongst these was new legislation to get ‘Great British Energy’ off the ground, crack down on failing water companies and bring rail operators into public ownership.For the latest political updates, follow The Independent’s live coverage“Rebuilding our country will not happen overnight,” said Sir Keir. “The challenges we face require determined, patient work and serious solutions, rather than the temptation of the easy answer.”“This King’s Speech sets out a clear destination for our country.”However, the speech left some disappointed as measures they expected – or hoped – would be offered didn’t make the cut. Here’s an overview of what was missing in the King’s Speech:Scrapping the two-child benefit capPressure has been mounting on Labour to scrap the two-child benefit cap since they came into power, with many hoping the new government would use this ceremony to accept demands.This was not the case, as the two-child benefit cap made no mention in the speech. Instead, the King introduced the Children’s Wellbeing Bill, which aims to raise standards in education and protect children.Latest figures show that around 1.6 million children are missing out on thousands of pounds a year due to the two-child benefit cap.Action for Children described the policy as “cruel” in the wake of the statistics, echoing the previous words of The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby who said the measure is “neither moral nor necessary”.Responding to the King’s Speech, the Child Poverty Action Group said: “The new Government pledged an ambitious approach to tackling child poverty but there was little to help achieve that aim in the speech today.”“The two-child limit is the biggest driver of rising child poverty and teachers, struggling parents and even children themselves can testify to the harm the policy is causing to kids day in, day out”. “All eyes will now be on government’s first budget, which must commit to scrapping this policy. Delaying its abolition will harm many more young lives and undercut the government’s poverty-reduction plans”.Labour has not responded to calls to scrap the measure yet, insisting that public funds cannot allow it.The measures announced today will strengthen child protection, require free breakfast clubs at every primary school, and limit the number of branded items of clothing a school can require.Lowering the voting age to 16With Labour pledging to lower the voting age to 16 in their manifesto, many expected the King’s Speech to push through the plans – but the policy did not make an appearance.Instead, King Charles said the government will work to “encourage wide participation in the democratic process”.It was recently revealed that Sir Keir does not intend to bring in the new voting rules in time for the 2025 local elections, leading many to wonder what the timeframe is for giving votes to 16- and 17-year-olds.However, speaking to reporters about the reform, he had said: “You’ll have to wait for the King’s Speech for that.”“But I’ve got a number of priorities as we come into government and they are around my missions and economic growth is the number one.”It would seem those who expected to hear about the measure today will have to wait a little longer.Little new public spending or revenue raisingA key criticism lodged at Labour’s manifesto was its lack of spending measures. At £4.7 billion, it was the lowest of all major party manifestos – even the Conservative’s £17.7 billion.While the NHS did receive a mention from King Charles, it’s unlikely to alleviate fears that Labour’s plans could be relying on a source of income which is too unreliable. Labour’s headline NHS policy is reducing waiting times, but no new revenue raising measures made an appearance in the speech.And while chancellor Rachel Reeves has made clear her vision to prioritise economic growth and attract private investment to fund public services, some economists have called this method into question.Responding to Labour’s manifesto in June, Director of the respected IFS think tank Paul Johnson said the party’s spending plans were “trivial,” adding that there was no clear “plan for where the money would come from”.Renters’ reform – but no rent capsA crucial piece of leglisation brought forward in the King’s Speech today is Renters’ Rights Bill – a remixed version of the long-awaited Renters’ Reform Bill that previous government’s had not pushed over the line.It’s key measure is scrapping the controversial Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notices which allow landlords to evict tenants from their properties without giving a reason.Labour bringing this bill back after the Conservatives dropped it ahead of the election will come as good news to renters’ rights activists. However, private rental costs have soared over the past few years – increasing 8.6 percent over the past 12 months while wages have only gone up 5.9 percent – with some saying more needs to be done.Tom Darling, Campaign Manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition said Labour’s new bill is “welcome,” adding that the group is “concerned, however, that unaffordable rent increases will continue to be no-fault evictions for many renters”.“The Government should be warned that its welcome and ambitious vision for renters will come unstuck if it doesn’t have an answer to the affordability question.”While a recent report comissioned by Labour recommended introducing rent caps in England and Wales for those struggling to afford rates, the party has not adopted the measure as official policy. The new bill will likely form the bulk of their policy on renters for the next year. More

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    King’s Speech: Key takeaways from public rail ownership to Great British Energy

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorKing Charles III made his second ever King’s Speech today, marking the 2024 State Opening of Parliament.In it, he laid out Labour’s vision for the country, and the key legislation the government will begin working on in the coming months.The party came to power at the start of July, ending 14 years of Tory government. Prime minister Sir Keir Starmer has been keen to hit the ground running, bringing a slate of new bills which seek to change the direction of the country.“My government will be committed to uniting the country in our shared mission of national renewal,” the prime minister said, introducing the King’s Speech.For the latest political updates, follow The Independent’s live coverage“We will serve every person, regardless of how they voted, to fix the foundations of this nation for the long term. The era of politics as performance and self-interest above service is over.”There were a total of 39 bills included in the King’s Speech, with some likely to have big impacts on the life of UK citizens.Here’s the key bills confirmed today and what they could mean for you:Budget Responsibility BillThis was the first piece of legislation announced by the King today, a signal from Labour of their emphasis the mission of economic growth.The bill will introduce a ‘fiscal lock’ by requiring any major tax or spending changes to be subject to an independent assessment by the Office for Budget Responsibility.This is a policy that has long been floated by Labour, and was detailed in their manifesto. It is in line with chancellor Rachel Reeves vision of ‘securonomics’ which see economic growth and wealth creation prioritised with limited state intervention.Labour says the bill is designed “to ensure that the mistakes of Liz Truss ‘mini budget’ cannot be repeated.”Housebuilding and planning bill( More