The Labour Party launched a new website today called “Your Britain“. On the home page it says:
“This is the online home of Labour ideas and policy development. By joining in you can play a part in developing our next manifesto.”
I’m not a Labour Party member, never have been, but boy do we need a strong opposition at the moment. I don’t feel we have one now, but this new site seems like a good idea, and non-members are allowed to contribute, so I thought I would “join the debate” as they say and post a policy idea. My idea (not my idea, but the idea I put forward), was for a full job guarantee as advocated by proponents of MMT. Here is what I submitted. Not hopeful it will do any good, but with a bit of luck, someone might read it and want to find out more:
“At the moment, we are in the middle of an unemployment crisis. The financial crisis led to a sharp increase in unemployment, and while unemployment has fallen since it’s peak, at current rates of change, it will take at least 10 years before unemployment reaches pre-crisis levels. I don’t think it is acceptable that we should have to wait that long.
At the moment, when people are made unemployed, they have the welfare state to fall back on. While prevailing wisdom seems to be that our welfare state is overly generous, and discourages work, those actually dependent upon it know otherwise. I think we can do a lot better. Instead of paying people not to work, I propose the introduction of a full job guarantee.
In essence this would mean creating the offer of employment, paid at the living wage, to anyone willing and able to work. The Government would pay the wage, but the task of creating appropriate job opportunities would fall on local government and the thrid sector. The Future Jobs Fund demonstrated that there is no shortage of worthwhile work in the community to be done, and this ethos could be built on and expanded with a job guarantee.
As the jobs would pay a living wage, this would become the de facto minimum wage without the need for legislation. Private sector employers would need to offer attractive wages and/or terms and conditions in order to hire from the pool of job guarantee workers, but in return, they would be recruiting job ready, motivated workers with the basic skills so many employers claim people are lacking at present.
People would be able to remain in their job guarantee jobs indefinitely, but the focus would be on providing the individuals with the skills and training required to transition to jobs in the private or regular public sectors. While the jobs would pay a living wage, there would be no prospect of promotion or a pay rise while the individual remained in the job guarantee job, thus encouraging workers to seek work outside the job guarantee.
The size of the pool of job guarantee workers would depend upon the state of the economy. That is to say it would operate in a counter-cyclical manner. When the economy is weak, the job guarantee would expand. When it recovers the job guarantee pool would contract.
This policy would be affordable. For a net cost of around 1% of GDP per annum (and significantly less once the economy strengthens), we could have genuine full employment in this country for the first time in over 40 years.
A job guarantee would act as a beefed up automatic stabiliser, so that when the next recession hits, it will be much less painful, and the recovery much more swift.
This would be a true growth policy as eliminating involuntary unemployment would eliminate millions of wasted man hours per year and enable us to produce near maximum potential output.”