Social Safety Net
A decade of austerity has left our social safety net in tatters. Our policies will provide a renewed foundation for all of us to build on when we need help.
Universal Basic Income
We will introduce a Universal Basic Income as a replacement for the deeply flawed Universal Credit programme, with top-up payments as required for those on other benefits such as Personal Independence Payments. The reduced cost of administering a UBI will more than make up for the increased number of recipients and will provide a solid foundation for all in precarious circumstances, including the many people employed in the gig economy. UBI trials across Europe have demonstrated its benefits, allowing people to invest in their education, improving mental health, and reducing poverty.
Reforming the Department for Work and Pensions
We will improve access to benefits by simplifying the application process and ensuring that it is possible to apply by post or over the phone as well as online. Not everyone has a home internet connection or a computer, and they should not be prevented from getting support when they need it.
We will reform the Department for Work and Pensions and put an end to dehumanising and dangerous practices such as requiring a face to face assessment for all claims, the requirement for cohabiting couples to file a joint claim, long initial wait times, and reducing benefits during the opaque and unaccountable appeals process. Assessments will only be required where strictly necessary and medical evidence will not require additional assessment. As an alternative to face to face assessments, all claimants will be offered a video call or home visit.
We believe that childcare is a necessity that must be available to all, free at the point of use, in line with our state education system. The cost of private childcare leaves many parents in a position where they must choose between continuing their careers or raising their children, and many more people who want to have families unable to do so.
We will provide funding for community-based childcare providers, both local authority-based and co-operatives, and enforce strong safeguarding standards on all providers. We will achieve this by ensuring that local authorities have the resources they need to enforce these standards.
We will expand the current free childcare scheme from 30 to 37.5 hours a week (including school holidays), expand eligibility from 3-4 year olds to 3-11 year olds, and include care during school holidays. In addition, we will expand early years support, including Sure Start and similar schemes.
Freedom from hunger is a human right regardless of a child’s background. We will provide free school meals for all students, and expand the scheme to include breakfast clubs. Universal free school meals will also be more cost-effective for families who do not currently use the system, since the state can take advantage of bulk price discounts that they cannot.
We will ensure all food for schools, hospitals, and other public institutions is sourced directly from local suppliers and is high quality, healthy and sustainable. We will also provide financial support for organisations working to eliminate hunger in their communities and we will help connect residents in need with their services. Until such time that we can eradicate the need for food banks, we will place no arbitrary restrictions on access to them.
Parental and Menopause Support
We will increase paid parental leave to support new parents in the workplace, raising it from 30% of a person’s wage to 60% and making it equally available to both parents. We will also work with unions to ensure that those returning to work after a pregnancy are not overworked or pushed out of their jobs and receive the support they need to settle back in.
Menopause is an underdiscussed issue in our culture, and we will work with unions to improve accommodations in the workplace for those suffering its side-effects.
We will restore the pension age to 65 for all genders and ensure any changes are implemented in such a way that they don’t leave anyone worse off. Increasing the pension age fails to take into account the experiences of those whose careers are based on physical work, and moving the goalposts leaves people in precarity.
The Conservative governments’ cuts to the courts and legal aid systems have made a mockery of justice, with victims of crime waiting years for perpetrators to be tried, while innocent people are left without the means to properly defend themselves. We will restore funding to the legal system and legal aid.
We will provide mutual aid groups with resources to support their work in building resilient communities, including access to public spaces, professional expertise, and start-up grants. We will also directly connect residents who want to help with organisations that operate in their area. To protect the independence of these groups, we will not collect any information on those using their services.