Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer has outlined a 10-point plan of distinctive tax and spend policies aimed at delivering a fairer, greener country. She will dismiss the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, saying it will be “another failed opportunity to end the cost-of-living crisis, tackle the climate crisis and restore crumbling public services on which we all rely.”
“Our 10-point plan identifies around £30 billion of additional funds that would be available from simply rebalancing the tax system so that the super-rich pay their fair share and both people and planet benefit.”
“The extra revenue raised would enable the government to pay NHS staff an inflation-matching pay award, increase access to NHS dentists, increase Universal Credit, abolish the two-child benefit cap, improve bus services and help small businesses take advantage of the opportunities offered by greening the economy.
“Instead, the chancellor’s Autumn Statement will be another failed opportunity to end the cost-of-living crisis, tackle the climate crisis or restore crumbling public services. It’s clear that as the Tories continue to languish in the polls, Jeremy Hunt has more interest in electoral gimmickry that he has in creating a fairer and greener country.”
The Green Party’s 10-point plan would:
Restore the public health budget by increasing spending by £1.4 billion
Immediately increase NHS spending by £8 billion, to ensure NHS staff can be paid an inflation matching pay award
Meet the Government’s current plan to increase access to NHS dentists by increasing spending 50 per cent – £1.5 billion – of the total NHS dentistry budget
End the rise in homelessness caused by the cap on Local Housing Allowances at a cost of £700 million
Increase Universal Credit by £40 per week at a cost of £9bn
Abolish the two-child benefit cap to reduce poverty for some of the most vulnerable children in the country by increasing the welfare budget by £1.3 billion
Provide the necessary powers and funding to rural local authorities to take back control of bus services so they can increase routes and service frequencies at a cost of £3bn
Turn ISAs green by linking their tax exemptions to investments in green bonds
Invest an additional £3billion in Green Transition Grants for small businesses to help them prepare for and take advantage of the opportunities offered by greening the economy
Rebalance the tax system to raise an extra £30 billion through changes to Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance and the abolition of “non dom status” which would pay for the proposed measures
Championing the Green’s alternative Autumn Statement, Carla Denyer said:
“These fairer, greener alternatives give just a flavour of what could be done if we had a Government willing to tackle the long-term crises we face. They would start to remove the fundamental injustice that means that wealthier people who own more assets often see a lower effective tax rate than less well-off people.
“Everyone deserves easy access to a dentist, improved public health, properly paid and supported doctors and nurses working with decent facilities, reduced poverty and homelessness, and accessible public transport.
“There is enough money in the economy to make our country fairer and greener. What is lacking is the political will to change priorities. And Starmer’s official opposition seems no more ready to offer this than the Government is. That is why we so desperately need more Greens in Parliament to make the case for the common-sense changes that can deliver a fairer greener country.”
CLIMATE and social justice activists in Scotland have highlighted their opposition to food poverty by staging a series of stunts.
Members of This Is Rigged covered the Sainsbury’s branch in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street with red paint today as they demanded an end to “profiteering” by supermarkets.
The day before, the group entered Edinburgh Castle and smashed the glass case housing the Stone of Destiny, which had recently been returned to Scotland following the coronation of Charles Windsor.
Near the end of a year of high-profile interventions pressing for decisive action on climate change and a fair net-zero transition for workers, the group’s latest stunts are focused on the cost-of-greed crisis, which they argue is indivisible from the climate crisis.
The group warned that it would escalate actions in support of its demands that the Scottish government provide “food hubs” in every community and that supermarkets reverse their 24 per cent increase in baby food prices over the last two years.
Millions of people in the UK are unable to meet their most basic physical needs: to stay warm, dry, clean and fed. This is known as destitution.
Recent analysis from charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) estimates that around 3.8 million people in the UK experienced destitution at some point during 2022. This is a 61% increase since 2019 – and a 148% increase since 2017.
Living in destitution means severe material hardship. The JRF’s 2022 survey of crisis service users in the UK found that 61% reported going without food in the month before the survey. They often put other needs, such as accommodation or feeding their children, over feeding themselves.
About half of the people surveyed were not able to afford adequate clothing and basic necessities, such as toiletries. Many talked of living in insecure and low quality housing.
One particularly alarming aspect of these most recent statistics is the steep increase in the number of children living in destitution. In 2022, around 1 million children lived in households who experienced destitution. This is an increase of 88% since the charity’s corresponding 2019 study, and a 186% increase since the 2017 study.
Impact on children
Destitution causes immediate suffering. But for these children, this experience of hardship at a young age will have consequences that last throughout their lives. There is little doubt that both money and environment (housing quality, parental mental health and nutrition, for example) contribute to inequalities in child development. Both of these factors are affected by living in destitution.
When children reach the age of three, stark differences are already evident between those who live in poverty and those who do not. Children from more well-off families have better developed skills in both cognitive tasks, such as understanding basic concepts like colours, letters, numbers and shapes, as well as socio-emotional skills, such as self-control and resilience.
Other factors that are important in shaping children’s skills include housing quality and parental mental health.
Inequalities so early in life can compound and widen over time. These differences between the disadvantaged and the better off can be seen in educational achievement, health and criminal activity.
These types of inequalities were also exacerbated by the pandemic. While pupils everywhere missed out on education, these learning losses were not equally distributed: young people from lower socio-economic background fell further behind.
Despite large increases in funding for the early-year sectors, socio-economic inequalities in child development have not generally narrowed, particularly in recent years.
And now, the sharp increase in the share of children living in destitution does not paint a optimistic picture for the future.
Making a difference
However, many of these issues can be changed by government policy. For example, we know that being hungry at school makes it difficult to concentrate and learn. Measures that address hunger, then, can make a difference. Analysis of a trial of breakfast clubs in English schools, which offered free breakfast to disadvantaged children aged six and seven, found that the free breakfast lead to the equivalent of two months’ extra progress in reading, writing and maths across the course of one year.
Research has shown that many early interventions – such as high quality childcare and education programmes for at-risk children – can have long-lasting positive effects. From an economic perspective, acting early to lift children out of poverty and improve their home and learning environments can be a cost-effective way of helping in the long run, both for individuals as well as wider society.
Another option would be reform of the benefits system to make sure families have enough money to live. In the 2022 Joseph Rowntree Foundation survey of people who used crisis centres, 72% did receive social security benefits – but were still destitute.
This rise in children living in household experiencing destitution must be given serious attention. Successive governmentsclaim to hold upward social mobility as a important goal – that is, the ability of people to move up the economic and social ladder, regardless of their own upbringing and social background. Reducing destitution would not only benefit children right now, but would help them throughout life.
The UK government is in breach of international law over failing to tackle extreme levels of poverty and destitution in the country, according to a scathing assessment made by the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
It comes after the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently released a report showing that almost 4 million people experienced destitution in 2022, including more than a million children.
Government data recently revealed that 14.4 million people lived in relative poverty in 2021-22 – a million more than the previous year.
With a cost of living crisis and soaring food and fuel prices as well as increasing housing costs, Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, slammed the UK’s woefully inadequate welfare system, citing research showing universal credit payments of £85 a week for single adults over 25 were “grossly insufficient” and described the UK’s main welfare system as “a leaking bucket”.