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.