The deadline for motions for Spring Conference is almost upon us. If there are any paid-up members of the Green Party reading this who are aware that solving the many ecological problems that we face offers us an opportunity to put an end to the irrational and inhumane social problem of unemployment, I wonder if you would be so kind as to copy the text below and forward it to soc[at]greenparty.org.uk with a message to say that you are seconding it.
It needs to be with SOC by 30th November - sorry about the short notice, but there is a very narrow window for submissions to the first agenda, and I have been away.
Very grateful for any support
Unemployment causes illness and poverty at individual and community level. It may lead to alienation, which can play into the hands of political extremists. Youth unemployment is high, and is known to have an economically disabling effect throughout life.
At the same time, there is a vast amount of work which needs to be done to heal society and environment.
This motion is intended to address these problems by creating a voluntary scheme that converts JSA into a stimulus to the green sector of the economy.
Add in the PFSS after EC733:
EC734 Unemployment has become accepted as a normal part of the modern economy. However, it has severe impacts on the health of individuals and communities. It bears particularly hard on young people, and some studies show that they are scarred for life by the experience of unemployment. Not just poverty and ill-health, but anger, resentment and alienation all result from unemployment.
At the same time as unemployment is inflicted on millions, there is a vast amount of good work left undone, work that would heal society and environment.
Green Wage Subsidy (GWS) aims to address these problems by turning unemployment benefits into a support for beneficial work as set out below.
GWS also prepares the ground for the introduction of full Citizen’s Income
EC735 Every local authority will be [to set up a small Tribunal, of two or three officers, empowered to judge, systematically according to set criteria, whether the processes and product of employers who come before them are of net benefit to society and/or environment.
Applicants would typically be operating in the following fields:
· energy conservation
· renewable energy technologies
· energy efficient goods development and manufacture
· public transport
· pollution control technology
· waste minimisation
· water management
· sustainable agriculture
· timber use
· countryside management
· housing - new building and refurbishment
· improvements to visual environment
· education and training
· counselling, caring and healing
· community work
· community enterprises such as cultural centres
· leisure and tourism
· innovation, research and development in these fields
EC736. Businesses and public enterprises who believe they might qualify may go to the Tribunals seeking "Green Accreditation”. Any economic grouping may apply: public services including local authorities, National Health Service, social services, co-operatives, charities, and private enterprises. The central criterion for acceptance is that the outcome of their goods and service is to the benefit of society and environment. Preference will be given to small local enterprises. Large national and multinational corporations will be [scrutinised critically in terms of their Corporate Social Welfare standards and taxation contributions, and with a few exceptions will be unlikely to succeed] [excluded from participation].
Successful applicants 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 current unemployment benefit in their new job. This can be seen as a 100% extension of the present limited “Earnings Disregard”.
An appeal process will be provided to check on the decisions of the Tribunals where necessary.
Acceptance of a job offer will be voluntary. Refusal of a job offer will not result in any penalty.
EC737 The employer would bring the remuneration of the GWS worker up to the appropriate normal rate of pay for the job that is paid in the company. This decision should take account of the Minimum Wage and Living Wage. Living Wage for all employees is the preferred minimum level.
The effect of this is to transform the present “Job Seekers’ Allowance” and other forms of unemployment benefit change from being a dead, grudgingly granted “dole” into a Green Wage Subsidy (GWS) which stimulates the green sector of the local economy. The worker has employment and a better income as a result of taking on work, while the employer has a bigger workforce for a smaller outlay than would normally be the case. There is no significant cost to the Government in the short term. There should preferably be no time limit for this arrangement, so that in this regard it behaves in the same way as a Citizen’s Income (CI), and as years pass, the CI could be introduced gradually as a natural extension of the GWS.
EC738 It will be illegal for employers to replace their previous establishment with GWS workers, and if workers believe that they have been so replaced they can make a complaint to the Tribunals, who would have powers to reinstate the worker or, in the case of repeated offences, to revoke the offending company’s accreditation.
Participation in the scheme will be entirely voluntary on the part of employees and employers. The scheme will stand outside of 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.
The reason for this is that workfare and forced labour is contrary to the ethics of the Green Party. Also, forced labour is inefficient labour.
EC739 In order to avoid unfair competition between established companies and putative start-up companies, it may be decided that companies applying for accreditation must have been in existence for a period of time, for instance, at least two years. In special local circumstances, this rule may be adjusted by the Tribunal.
EC740 GWS money would otherwise have been given to unemployed people on condition that they do nothing apart from being obliged to prepare themselves for work that for most of them simply does not exist. Therefore, in the short term GWS would present no cost to public 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 increased tax revenues from firms which have benefited, and yet more would come back to society in qualitative improvements such as improved services, diminished inequality and improved morale. Calculations suggest that a GWS scheme operating at 50% of full capacity would benefit the UK economy to the tune of £10 Billion per year, at a cost (for the tribunals) of £34 Million a year. Because the GWS is permanent (as opposed to being time limited, which is the case with similar schemes at present) there would be a long term cost analogous to that of CI.
Proposed by: Richard Lawson
North Somerset GP