Tackling inequality

 

The Kensington disaster, along with the referendum that voted for Brexit, demonstrates the pressing need to tackle inequality. Corbyn’s success was due to him offering hope.

It is time for Lib Dems to step up and offer radical solutions, as we have seen in France. Every candidate for the leadership must be asked what he or she will do to tackle this issue. Here are some ideas, though not exhaustive.

Government priorities

With a lame duck PM and a government in chaos we cannot expect to see too many balls in the air. We are not in a fit condition to manage Brexit, but we could get a consensus to tackle inequality.

We should apply to the EU to put Brexit on hold, if that means a withdrawal of article 50 so be it. We are not ignoring the referendum result; we are putting it on hold until we are in a fit state to deal with it.

We can then tackle the causes of inequality.

Universal provision of high-quality childcare, affordable for all

We need to publicly fund childcare to ensure it does not cost more than 10% to 15% of wages. We also need better training and working conditions for childcare workers.

Reduce the gap between top-to-bottom earnings and ensure there is a link between economic prosperity and wages

We need to ensure that workers have a voice in workplace decisions including a seat on the board. Organisations must publish their pay ratios, zero hours workers must have full employment rights, and zero hour working should not be used to replace full time working. Minimum wage should apply to all workers.

Recent decreases in Corporation Tax should be reversed, but companies who reinvest more than X% (to be agreed) of profit into the business should receive tax relief

A fairer and more progressive tax system

We need to strengthen the resources to prevent tax evasion and avoidance, ensure that profit made in the UK is taxed in the UK and not shipped abroad, introduce progressive taxation that balances tax on income and wealth, and introduce Land Value Taxation.

Recent changes in benefits to be reviewed, particularly in the treatment of disabled, and the Bedroom Tax should only be applied after an offer of alternative accommodation

Housing

There is an urgent need to provide more, and safe, social housing.

Properties left vacant, should be subject to additional taxation.

Creation of good jobs to benefit all

We need a national economic strategy, a national investment bank with regional targets, ensure the Green Investment Bank is under state control and invest in green technology.

Opportunities for youth

Every young person should have access to appropriate high quality training and education. Funding of universities to be reviewed as the student loans are becoming unfair and unsustainable. We must ensure that universities are providing value for money. Housing Benefit for under 25s to be restored.

The Cost

Changes to the taxation system should produce some of the income. Increasing the value of work will increase the income tax revenue. Any investment that will bring  financial returns can be funded from borrowing. If any further increases are required we need to look at wealth tax.

* David Becket has been a Lib Dem member since 1992 and is a former councillor on Berkshire County Council, West Berkshire Council and Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council

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5 Comments

  • David Evershed 19th Jun '17 - 2:57pm

    Although we await the outcome of a public inquiry, the Kensington disaster is unlikely to demonstrate a “pressing need to tackle inequality”.

    It might demonstrate a need for revised building regulations or better implementation of existing regulations, but since £8.5m had just been spent on Grenfell Tower, lack of expenditure was not the cause, although the cash may have been spent on the wrong materials or incompetent architects, suppliers or contractors.

  • This is a disappointing article. The only time when economic inequalities fell continuously was when governments implemented polices to reduce unemployment to below 3% of the working age population. Any list of actions needed to reduce inequalities has to include making the aim of keeping unemployment below 3% of the working age population the chief economic aim of government.

    It is weak on housing. Everyone who wants one should be able to have a home of their own, and this means at least 300,000 new homes have to be built every year.

    There is a growing call on LDV for us to come up with a way to pay for the abolition of tuition fees, which is still our policy. While ensuring every young person has access to training or further education is a good policy, it just does not go far enough. All adult learning (towards a changed career) and training and re-training courses need to be free as well. Companies that recruit a foreign worker need to either proved a training place for someone in the UK or fund the training of someone in the UK so in the future the company does not have to employ a worker recruited from aboard.

  • Simon McGrath 20th Jun '17 - 7:42am

    “but companies who reinvest more than X% (to be agreed) of profit into the business should receive tax relief”
    Just like the current system you mean

  • Sue Sutherland 20th Jun '17 - 12:09pm

    Joe, I agree with you and worked with tenants when I was a chair of housing and then on the board of a Housing Association to ensure their effective participation on that board. There does seem to be a TMO involved in running Grenfell House but I’m not sure how this is set up. It’s certainly unpopular with at least some tenants.

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