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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Queen's speech: IPPR reaction to ‘policy gulf’ on environment, planning, health and care agenda

Think tank welcomes some targets and commitments, but says bold action and clear policy must follow

Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR director of research and engagement, said:

“The Queen’s speech was an opportunity for the government to set out a bold agenda for recovering the economy and rebuilding the public realm after the pandemic and a decade of austerity. But a policy gulf still remains between their words and their actions. “Promises to ‘level up’ the country are welcome, but after years of rhetoric and piecemeal announcements, people now expect to see meaningful action and more substantial devolution. It’s time for the government to substantiate its goals on climate, health, levelling up and social care with the policies needed to achieve a fairer, thriving and more prosperous country after the pandemic.”

On net zero and green investment, Luke Murphy, head of the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission, said:

“The government's commitments to invest in green industries, to net zero and legally binding targets on the environment are welcome. But in a crucial year, at the start of a crucial decade and as COP 26 host, we must move beyond ambitious targets and rapidly to action. It is clear that the government has not yet grasped the scale of investment or policies that need to be brought forward in order to deliver on our climate and nature targets. Targets and commitments are welcome, but the UK must now lead a decade of ambitious action and delivery.”

On the NHS and social care, Chris Thomas, senior research fellow, said:

"It was welcome to see the Queen's speech prioritise healthcare, public health and the life sciences - in contrast to the recent budget, when they were barely mentioned at all. But the proof will be in whether bold action follows. It will take nothing less than a £12 billion funding booster shot to 'build back better' in health and care.

“It is disappointing that the Queen's speech contained little detail on social care reform and funding. There is clear, cross-party consensus for a 1948 moment in social care - based on making personal care free at the point of need, and funded through general taxation. The government cannot justify any further delay."

On skills policy, Clare McNeil, associate director, said:

“After a decade of underinvestment, today’s announcements are a vital step towards ensuring people can gain the skills they need to get on in life, whatever their background. However, the funding falls far short of the investment needed. To genuinely help transform the prospects of school leavers, we estimate the per pupil spend for 16-19 year-olds in colleges and sixth forms would need to rise from £5,200 today to over £8,000 by the end of the parliament and additional investment in adult education. The government's skills offer will be lacking as long as apprenticeship numbers continue to fall.”

On planning reforms, Jonathan Webb, senior research fellow, said:

“The government is right to reform the planning system. The current system fails to deliver enough high-quality and affordable homes that this country so desperately needs. By streamlining the planning process and unlocking the construction of new homes, we could finally begin to tackle the housing crisis. But if these reforms are to be successful, they must ensure that the delivery of affordable homes is at the heart of the planning system. To achieve this, the government will also need to tackle England’s broken land market and speculative housebuilding model head on.”


IPPR researchers are available for interview on the Queen’s speech


David Wastell, Head of News and Communications: 07921 403651 [email protected]

Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer: 07779 204798 [email protected]


  1. Research from the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission is available to view here:
  2. IPPR calculated that £12 billion is needed to tackle the backlog and to ‘build back better’ in health and care, including funding for free personal care. The State of Health and Care report is available to read here:
  3. IPPR’s latest housing policy proposals, including plans for major investment in social housing and the development of a ‘living rent’ model, are available here:
  4. IPPR’s FE funding analysis is available here:
  5. For IPPR North reaction, please contact Rosie Lockwood [email protected]
  6. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.