Tuesday, June 04, 2019

North Somerset Climate Emergency Job Creation proposal

North Somerset Council has declared a Climate Emergency and set up an Officer's Group to look at the matter. This is a proposal that I have just sent to the Group:

Work Stimulus Scheme in North Somerset as a response to the Climate Emergency declaration

North Somerset Council has declared a Climate Emergency. The central aim of the declaration is to bring the per capita CO2 emission of North Somerset down from 6.5 tonnes per capita per annum to 2 tonnes per capita per annum as soon as possible.
A very large number of changes are necessary to achieve this challenging target, but one of the simplest and most effective changes is to reduce the amount of carbon needed for domestic and commercial space heating, which contributes about 7.5% of carbon emissions globally.
There are four added benefits to energy conservation in buildings:
1.      Domestic heating bills will fall, helping those on low incomes
2.      Less money spent on heating bills will enable people to spend more in the local economy, stimulating economic activity in our community
3.      Ill-health and deaths due to cold living conditions will fall
4.      Jobs will be created in the energy conservation sector

Here is a brief outline of how the Work Stimulus Scheme (WSS, aka Green Wage Subsidy) would work.
1.      The Council would write to the Department of Work and Pensions seeking permission to roll our a WSS for the community of North Somerset as a pilot study
2.      An officer would be detailed to manage and roll out the scheme
3.      Local businesses involved in energy conservation would be invited to apply for inclusion on the WSS
4.      Applicants (whether private enterprises, public services, non-profit, cooperatives or charities, but not corporations above a specified size), would be assessed for their qualifications and competence in carrying out energy conservation
5.      Successful candidates would be given a certificate of approval
6.      Approved enterprises would go to the Job Centre and expand their workforce by engaging new staff
7.      These new employees would be allowed to retain their benefits (whether JSA, UC ESA or other) while engaging in their new work
8.      The new employer would bring up the wage of the new employee to the going rate for the job
9.      WSS will not be allowed to displace traditional employees, that is, the employer would not be allowed to discharge previous employees and replace them with WSS employees. WSS will serve only to expand the existing workforce.
10.  There will be no compulsion in WSS. It is not workfare. Claimants will be able to refuse to participate without incurring any sanction. They will be able to leave work and claim without sanction.
11.  WSS should not be time-limited
12.  WSS will be applied to energy conservation work initially, but may be extended in future to any other economical activity associated with the Climate Emergency, for instance, tree planting and renewable energy work.

The above will raise many questions in the minds of officers and members, and the author is keen to listen to and answer any questions that may arise. The major challenge will be to get the DWP to agree (point 1 above), but given the magnitude of the challenge of meeting the Climate Emergency, and if the case is well-presented, there is no reason not to make the request. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

There are several precedents for the aspect of WSS that makes benefits independent of work, for instance, child benefits and pensions.

Universal Basic Income has a long history of being considered as an answer to the complexity of the benefit system, and is being trialled in several places at the present time. WSS could be a precursor of UBI in that it shares the important feature of making benefit independent of work status.
The inventor of WSS is Dr Richard Lawson, a long term resident of North Somerset who served in Congresbury as a GP for 30 years, and as a Councillor for the then district of Woodspring for 6 years.

Wage Stimulus Scheme offers the possibility of helping the Council to meet the Climate Emergency, to create jobs, lower heating bills, stimulate the local economy, and put NSC forward as an example of an innovative Council.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.