Yesterday the Queen delivered the Government’s legislative plan for the upcoming Parliament. This blog draws on NatCen data to show where the public may stand on the new laws.
Better Markets Bill
The Queen announced the Government’s plan to increase energy market competition and reduce consumer costs – this legislation is likely to go down well with the public who do not think particularly highly of energy companies. In 2014 we asked participants in NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey whether they thought energy companies were well run. A majority of the public disagreed: 58% said energy companies were not very well run or not at all well run, compared with 26% who thought they were well run or very well run.
Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill
Further restrictions extremist activities are likely to be well received. In 2014 we asked the public about the rights of people who hold extreme religious views. The public favoured restrictions on them holding meetings and found a majority opposed.
Criminal Finances Bill
This legislation follows the Government’s manifesto commitment to crack down on tax evasion and includes a new criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion. The British public feels very strongly that people should pay their taxes. In 2014 we asked about what it takes to be a good citizen and 72% of the public said it is very important not to evade taxes, slightly higher than ten years previously. Only 2% said it was not important at all.
Digital Economy Bill
The Government has said it will create a “Broadband Universal Service Obligation”. In other words, every citizen and business will have a legal right to a fast broadband connection.
We have been asking people about their use of the internet as far back as 1999 and this data shows how quickly use of the internet in homes has become ubiquitous.
Higher Education and Research Bill
The Queen announced the Government’s plans to “promote choice and competition across the Higher Education sector” and make it easier to set up new universities. But BSA suggests this may be unnecessary in the public’s eyes: support for expanding places is lower than it once was – in 2014, 39% thought opportunities should be increased, compared with between 44% and 52% from 1983 to 2003. And 2 in 5 thought there were too many graduates in the UK labour market.
Lifetime Savings Bill
The Lifetime Savings Bill introduces a new scheme to encourage under-40s to save for either their retirement or a first home and another aimed at helping lower earners to save. The Family Resources Survey, which we collect for the Department for Work and Pensions, shows how the likelihood of having a savings account increases by age.
Modern Transport Bill
Plans to support the development of modern transportation such as driverless and electric cars will be made law. Data collected by NatCen for the National Travel Survey shows that by far the most common mode of transport was indeed the car: 42% of trips were made as a driver.
Proposals to make electric cars a viable, eco-friendly alternative to the current petrol versions are likely to be well received by at least a third of Britons. 34% of people think that people should not be able to use cars as much as they like, if it’s damaging to the environment.
The Government’s support for the development of spaceplanes, also announced yesterday, suggests that we may need to update our transport categories in future surveys!
National Citizen Service Bill
This legislation will put the National Citizen’s Service (NCS) on a statutory footing and put a duty on schools and local authorities to promote it to children and their parents.
NatCen evaluated pilots of the NCS in 2011 and 2012 in an effort to understand the impact of the programme on young people. We found that a large majority (90%) of young people enjoyed National Citizen Service and thought it was worthwhile, because it had:
- given them the chance to meet people they wouldn't normally mix with;
- given them the chance to develop skills for the future;
- and made them proud of what they had achieved.
Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill
The Government’s plans on home building will “support aspiration and promote home ownership” by building more homes. BSA data shows that opposition to building new homes in England fell substantially between 2010 and 2014. The Neighbourhood Planning Bill includes plans to give more power to local people; BSA found that half of people said they would be more supportive of new homes if they had a say in the proposed development.
Recent research we conducted on first-time buyers demonstrated that 3 in 5 young people (aged 18-40) want to own their own home, and that home ownership is generally seen as more important than getting married or achieving their career goals.
NHS (Overseas Visitors’ Charging) Bill
This piece of legislation aims to make sure that overseas visitors and migrants are charged for NHS services they are not entitled to. There is little doubt that this would be popular with the British public. 59% of people in Britain say that people from other EU countries should not be able to get NHS treatment for free, compared with 23% who disagree.
Prison and Courts Reform Bill
This Bill will see the creation of “Reform Prisons” aimed at improving the education, training, healthcare and security of prisoners by empowering Prison Governors.
We have carried out a variety of work around prison reform and the experiences of prisoners. At the moment we are evaluating “Through the Gate Substance Misuse Services” that support prisoners and ex-offenders in the community with drug and alcohol dependency and will help inform decision-making around the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
The legislation will also introduce measures aimed at modernising the Courts and Tribunals system to reduce delays. In 2013, we published our qualitative evaluation of flexible criminal justice pilots that tested extended court hours and Saturday and Sunday court opening. This found Saturday courts worked well, but extended hours during the week made little difference and Sunday courts met with resistance.
Policing and Crime Bill
One of the main objectives of the Policing and Crime Bill is to “build public confidence in policing”. British Social Attitudes tells us that public confidence that the police is well run is lower than it has been in the past. However a majority still believe the police to be well run.
The Bill also says it will ban the use of police cells as “places of safety” for under-18s experiencing a mental health crisis. Our study heard the views of vulnerable people in custody revealing that adults and children experiencing mental health problems welcomed alternatives to custody.
Soft Drinks Industry Levy
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey, collected by NatCen, shows that average intakes of added sugar exceeded the recommendation of no more than 11% food energy for all age groups. For children aged 4 to 10 and 11 to 18 years, average intakes provided 14.7% and 15.6% food energy respectively.
The money raised from the so-called Sugar Tax will go towards sports and breakfast clubs in schools. Our recent research found that participating in sports and other out of school activities improves educational attainment.
The transfer of new powers to the Welsh Assembly may lead to greater clamour for an English Parliament. However, British Social Attitudes shows little support for change to the status quo: