Tag Archives: citizens advice bureau

Radical Ideas for the Future

At the moment, virtually all of our policies – save for our stance on the EU – amount to tinkering at the edges of a flawed, if not broken, political system. This is a result of the fact that there is generally a fair amount of consensus within mainstream politics on a number of key issues.

All parties agree that we need to build more housing, that we need more funding of schools, the NHS and the police, and that we need to protect the environment. The major policy debates at the moment concern immigration, nationalisation of public infrastructure, the EU, education and public sector borrowing – most of which are couched in simple binary yes/no terms, depending on whether you support Labour or the Tories.

Rather than trying to join in the political consensus or meet Labour and the Tories halfway (e.g. see our current policy on housing), I genuinely believe that we have an opportunity to pursue an alternative set of policies that will mark us out as distinct.

Along with electoral reform and being pro-European, six policy ideas from various places within the liberal political tradition, come to mind:

1. A national housebuilding company

A national construction company set up to build houses, with the government taking a majority stake and offering financial guarantees. Instead of just pledging a high-sounding number of homes to be built each year and leaving it to the private sector, a government-backed company would have the opportunity to take responsibility for recruiting and training construction workers (with a focus on British workers), building homes and maintaining homes – with profits going back to the Treasury.

Combined with relaxing the rules preventing local authorities from borrowing to fund social housing, a national housebuilding company would be an exciting yet pragmatic way of building homes while balancing the risk and reward of construction projects.

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The unintended costs and consequences of legal aid cuts

Inevitably when policy-makers design cuts packages they look at the short-term – savings achievable in particular department budgets within the spending review period. More holistic assessments, looking at where other public services ‘pick up the tab’ for another budget’s austerity measures, and the ‘displaced demand’ or ‘knock on costs’ that arise, are left for another day. This has been brought home with the Government’s legal aid reforms now before Parliament; an Independent report from a Kings College economist suggests the contribution of these cuts towards “deficit reduction” will be negligible, owing to the public costs of unresolved legal …

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Opinion: Access to justice – why Liberal Democrats should not sit on the sidelines

Next week the Government will announce legislation to reform legal aid, following a Green Paper published last November to which the Ministry of Justice received an unprecedented 5,000 responses. Whilst “legal aid reform” was in the Coalition Agreement, the scale of proposed changes has taken many aback – in order to cut the legal aid budget by £350million, Justice Ministers propose taking whole categories of law related problems out legal aid entitlement – housing and debt problems, welfare benefit issues, employment law issues, immigration cases, consumer law problems, education cases and private family law issues (eg divorce and …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments
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