Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 14:07 UK

Action to 'help family finances'

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown outlined plans in a draft version of the Queen's Speech

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a series of plans that will affect people's finances, homes, and life at work.

In a draft version of November's Queen's Speech, Mr Brown said that his government's immediate priority was to "help family finances".

Conservative leader David Cameron said many of the plans were taken from his party's ideas.

The plans were announced after Mr Brown was caught up in the 10p tax row.

HOUSING

Mr Brown said a plan to make unsold new homes available for housing association tenants would be brought forward.

A 200m fund would buy the homes and rent them to social tenants, or offer them under shared-ownership schemes.

First-time buyers have been finding it more difficult to get on the housing ladder following a decade of rising house prices, and as lenders are demanding bigger deposits amid a global credit crunch .

The Prime Minister announced a plan to offer shared-equity housing to all first-time buyers subject to a household income limit.

A shared-equity scheme, currently only open to key workers, will be extended to all low-income groups - with a 100m boost in funds.

BANKING REFORM

A Banking Reform Bill, according to Mr Brown, would "underpin Britain's banking system with the best protection for depositors".

The Northern Rock collapse prompted changes in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The scheme can pay compensation to consumers if an authorised financial services firm is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.

Since 1 October, 2007, the scheme has provided 100% protection on deposits of up to 35,000 per customer. Prior to that date, the limit was 100% of the first 2,000 then 90% of the next 33,000.

Mr Cameron said the need for a Banking Reform Bill was the result of a failure in the system of regulation with regard to Northern Rock.

SAVINGS

Mr Brown said a Saving Gateway Bill would set up a savings scheme for people on low incomes.

This plan, for a scheme to be launched across the UK from 2010, was announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling during his Budget speech earlier this year.

The Saving Gateway will see every pound saved by people on low incomes topped up with an unspecified contribution from the government.

Up to eight million people on benefits and tax credits could be eligible to open the two-year savings account.

FLEXIBLE WORKING

The Prime Minister said the right to flexible working for parents of older children, outlined in the last Queen's Speech, would be taken forward.

Currently parents can ask for flexible hours if their children are younger than six, but this has been under an independent review led by Sainsbury's human resources director Imelda Walsh.

"We will consult on the details of implementation, with the aim of introducing the new rights from next April," said Mr Brown.


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