Some policy ideas for Party Conference season

It’s Party Conference season again, kicking off with the Lib Dems this weekend. While the main parties will doubtless be floating radical new policies like voluntary codes for zero hour contracts, voluntary codes for private sector landlords or how best to ‘nudge’ people to behave in ways not in their long term interest (mainly borrowing more money), I thought I’d float just 3 alternative policies I’d like to see introduced.

1. No surprise to regular readers, number 1 is a job guarantee. While David Cameron and George Osborne are high-fiving about unemployment falling by 24,000, long-term unemployment and youth unemployment both remain high. Even if we now have a strong recovery, hundreds of thousands are going to be left behind, as employers are unwilling to hire people without recent job experience. To fix this, the government should create jobs to act as a transition from unemployment to regular paid employment. These jobs should be available to anyone struggling to find a job, but who is willing and able to work. This would also render the whole zero hours debate moot.

2. Housing affordability and availability is a real issue for millions. Nasty policies like the bedroom tax don’t help, and the Government’s enhanced right to buy is exacerbating the problem. We need 250,000 new dwellings per year to meet demand. At the moment we are building less than half that number. To address this, central government should award grants to local authorities of £200 per resident, for the building of social housing. These homes should be required to be built to passivhaus standard. Building regs should also be amended to prevent some of the worst residential building we see today.

3. A debt jubilee. Current policy seems to be to ‘recover’ the economy based on pumping up private debt levels once again. This is clearly unsustainable. Debt levels are already too high, and much of it probably can’t be paid back. We should accept this and hit the reset button. Each household could be given a one off payment of £10,000, which must be used to pay off debt, be it mortgage debt or unsecured debt. Those who do not have any debt get to keep the £10k to spend on whatever.

Pie in the sky? In the current climate yes, obviously these things won’t be implemented, but in terms of the ideas being practical, affordable and beneficial for the majority? Yes, I think these policies are all those things. Got any of your own? Leave your ideas in the comments.



9 thoughts on “Some policy ideas for Party Conference season

  1. Instatement of a “living” wage with the only businesses absolved from this being small ones who can show that their turnover is insufficient at the current time. These companies should be given support to pay the “living wage” where they provide jobs and community commitment.

    A move to remove our reliance on huge corporations (fast-food, supermarkets, clothes chains) and support smaller independent businesses would be good as well – could be done with a bit of Government support, and proper adherence to tax rules and liabilities enforced on the big guys (this will never happen voluntarily with any Government though).

    ALL tax avoidance loopholes to be shut: I have long since been of the opinion that the ONLY thing required to do this is the simple statement that “any attempts to flout the “spirit of these laws” constitutes fraud. I also believe that we need a similar law as the ones regarding the ill-gotten gains of the overtly criminal World: i.e. that once you have flouted this spirit of the law your business and assets are seized and re-distributed. In the case of the business itself, by forming a workers co-operative so that employment continues.

    Land reform, land reform and land reform 🙂

    Re-nationalisation (without compensation – they’ve already snorted enough from the trough) of all those utilities and services that were wrongfully sold in the first place.

    Price regulations so that smaller businesses can compete more easily with the big guys. You will get a better level of honesty and integrity where there is not so much corporate power and we desperately need a more honest and principled business model.

    A return to an education system that recognises that we are all equal, but that we all have different skill sets, and different learning speeds and that one size simply does not fit all. I’m always unpopular with this one but despite being entirely a left-winger in my thinking generally, I am convinced that we do no child any kindness at all by attempting to treat them all in the same way at the same time in education and that we fail miserably to make the best of not only the most skilled academics, but also the most skilled of practical abilities because of it. We also need to stop putting so much emphasis on academic achievement and respect the need and importance of practical ones equally.

    Funded further education, and support for those wanting to return to education at a later date.

    Not necessarily economically viable immediately, but should be something to be aimed for for the good of society and not for the good of a small minority who live above and away from it.

  2. Oh, and regulation of the banks and the rest of the “financial (rip-off) services” and the set up of far more credit unions of strictly run building societies: a return to ethical banking practices not the gambling racket it currently constitutes. Again, if they don’t want to play ball then the big sods can clear off somewhere else and allow room for the smaller businesses to gain ground.

  3. Good start. We need wholesale amendments to company law. To get Limited Liability companies must be active, operating, and employing. Only then can companies own land etc. And pre-pack administration needs the bullet too.

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