Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Green Wage Subsidy Motion for Green Party Conference

Great! I've just heard from Standing Orders Committee, and the Green Wage Subsidy motion to next Green Party Conference got enough seconders, and is down on the agenda. Thanks guys!

Next item will be to give it loads of prioritisation votes so that it gets debated. Please if you are a Green Party member, keep an eye on the prioritisation ballot, and give the GWS motion a boost. 

If you are going to conference, please be prepared to speak in favour of the motion, in case there is a move to talk it down from any quarters.

Here is the amended motion  as it stands now:

Green Wage Subsidy Motion

We find ourselves in a situation of high unemployment, whichcauses illness, poverty and may lead to disaffection, which can play into thehands of political extremists. Rightly handled, the present crisis may end ofthe present quasi-free-market system, and out of the ruins we can create agreen economy.

The Motion:

Green Wage Subsidy

Add in the PFSS after EC733:

EC734 One of the weaknesses of free-market capitalism is itstendency to undergo periodic downswings, recessions and depressions, whichcause widespread hardship through unemployment and poverty, together with therisks of political instability and war. In a recession – as indeed in anormally functioning economy - we must ensure that the economy is restarted ina green way.  We can create a healthyand beneficial demand in the economy by addressing ecological needs (that is,the needs of environment and society) meaningfully, and at the same timeprepare the ground for the introduction of Citizen’s Income by turningunemployment benefits into a Green Wage Subsidy (GWS) as set out below.

 EC735 Every  local authority will be required to set up aTribunal empowered to judge, systematically according to set criteria, whetherthe processes and product of public services or private enterprise who comebefore them are of net benefit to society and/or environment.

Applicants would typically be operating in the followingfields:

  1. energy conservation
  2. renewable energy technologies
  3. energy efficient goods manufacture
  4. pollution control technology
  5. waste minimisation
  6. repair
  7. recycling
  8. water management
  9. sustainable agriculture
  10. forestry and timber use
  11. countryside management
  12. housing - new building and refurbishment
  13. improvements to visual environment
  14. public transport
  15. education and training
  16. counselling, caring and healing
  17. community work
  18. leisure and tourism
  19. innovation, research and development
  20. in some high unemployment areas, any ethical business which passes a certain threshold in its environmental audit.

EC736. Businesses and public enterprises who think they might qualify may go to the Tribunals seeking "Green Accreditation”. Any economic grouping may apply: public services including local authorities, co-operatives, and private enterprises. The sole criterion for acceptance is that the outcome of their work is to the benefit of society and environment. If successful, they may take on new workers (i.e. in addition to their present establishment) from Job Centres. New workers taken on under this scheme will be allowed to keep their unemployment benefit in their new job. This can be seen as an extension of the present “Earnings Disregard”. In this way, the present “Job Seekers’ Allowance” and other forms of unemployment benefit change from being a “dead dole” into a Green Wage Subsidy (GWS) which stimulates the green sector of the local economy.

An appeal process will be provided to check on the decisions of the Tribunals when necessary.

EC737 The employer would bring the remuneration of the GWSworker up to the appropriate normal rate of pay for the job, taking account ofminimum wage and the Living Wage. The result is that the worker has employmentand a better income as a result of taking on work, while the employer has abigger workforce for a smaller outlay than would normally be the case. There isno time limit for this arrangement, so that in this regard it behaves in thesame way as a Citizen’s Income (CI).

EC738 It will be illegal for employers to replace previousestablishment with GWS workers, and if workers believe that they have been soreplaced they can make a complaint to the Tribunals, who would have powers toreinstate the worker or, in the case of repeated offences, to revoke theoffending company’s accreditation. Participation in the scheme will be entirelyvoluntary on the part of employees and employers. The scheme will stand outsideof any existent rules which provide sanctions for claimants who refuse work,and in the event of a claimant refusing work offered by accredited employers,there will not be any withdrawal of benefit.

EC739 In order to avoid unfair competition betweenestablished companies and putative start-up companies, those companies applyingfor accreditation must have been in existence for at least five years. Inspecial local circumstances, this rule may be adjusted by the Tribunal. 

EC740 The GWS money would otherwise have been given tounemployed people on condition that they do nothing apart from being obliged toprepare themselves for generally non-existent work. This is the present statusof Unemployment Benefit, and is the cause of the present notorious unemploymentand poverty traps. Therefore, in the short term GWS would present no cost topublic sector finances, since the money would have been paid out in any case.Some of the GWS money would come back to Government in the form of increasedtax revenues from firms which have benefited, and yet more would come back tosociety in qualitative improvements such as improved services, diminishedinequality and improved morals.  Becausethe GWS is permanent (as opposed to being time limited, which is the case withsimilar benefits at present) there would be a long term cost analogous to thatof CI. These costs are consonant with Keynesian doctrine of the statestimulating work in times of economic depression.

Proposed by: Richard Lawson
North Somerset GP

1 comment:

DocRichard said...

Policy Committee have posted a note on the Green Party website to the effect that this motion is uncosted. I was unaware that costings are supposed to be included in insertions into Policies for Sustainable Society, but never mind.

I tried to start a conversation on the Green Party Members site, but it is very flaky and unpredictable, and I was unable to get it to work.

Anyway, here is my attempt at costing:

Re the costs of GWS, as per Policy Committee note on GWS motion.

Assuming there are 193 district councils, and the cost of the tribunals (3 workers at £25k pa + £25k office costs) would work out at £100k per year, the total cost to the Treaury would be about £19.3million p.a.

Assuming (conservatively) that this supplies 1 million jobs, benefits will accrue from:

NHS treatment costs foregone
crime (victimes, effects on) costs foregone (mainly petty theft, see Bills of Health)
police costs foregone
court costs foregone
prison costs foregone
Benefits Agency costs foregone
increased taxation from green sector enterprises, operating at a higher level
diffused morale benefits from general population, as they see visual amenity increase (i.e. brighter, newly painted street furniture, less litter, better care for elderly and infirm, better public services, better laid hedges, urban gardens
costs of energy losses foregone as insulation is applied
lower costs of renewable energy
energy import costs foregone
long term global warming costs to economy foregone

These are just a few saving areas off the top of my head. Now clearly, I have not been able to quantify these costs, but I think it would not be unreasonable to assume that they were less than £19million, and indeed we could assume that they are one or two orders of magnitude greater than 19.3 million.

Hope this helps.