Sheffield Blog: Against Austerity YES, but what do we stand for?

Against Austerity, YES. But what do we stand for? The People’s Charter could be the blueprint.

The People’s Charter – a Charter for Change, was set up by trade union leaders, MPs, and leading campaigners in 2008. It is supported by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and many community organisations.

The Charter sets out what must be done to get out of this crisis, and puts the interests of people first, rather than those of bankers & speculators. The People’s Charter was the topic of one of the workshops at the June 22 London meeting of the People’s Assembly. With the change of Government since the launch of the Charter, the shocking speed and severity of austerity policies have already made savage inroads into the fabric of the welfare state. It is crucial to show people that there IS an alternative way to run the economy. The 6 demands of the Charter set out how society should be organised to benefit the majority of the population, starting with the key issue of where the money would come from.

1. A fair economy for a fairer Britain

  • Take the leading banking, insurance and mortgage industries into democratic public ownership, run for the benefit of all.
  • Regain control of the Bank of England and keep interest rates low.
  • Tightly regulate the City markets to facilitate lending and to stop speculation & takeovers against the public interest.
  • Ban hedge funds, raids on pension funds, asset stripping and corporate tax loopholes.
  • Restructure the tax system so big business and the wealthy pay more and ordinary people less.

2. More and better jobs

  • Existing jobs must be protected.
  • Public & private investment must create new jobs paying decent money – in particular in manufacturing, construction & green technology.
  • More jobs mean more spending power to stimulate the economy, increased tax revenue and fewer people on benefit.
  • Build full employment – reduce hours not pay to create more jobs.
  • Raise the minimum wage to half national median earnings and end the lower rate for younger workers.

3. Decent homes for all

  • Stop the repossessions and keep people in their homes
  • Offer ‘no interest’ loans.’
  • Control rents
  • We need 3 million new homes – give local government the power and money to build & renovate affordable quality homes for rent and to buy up empty properties, ending the housing shortage & creating jobs.

4. Protect and improve our public services

  • Save public money by bringing energy, transport, water, postal services & telecommunications back into public ownership.
  • End corporate profiteering in health, education, social & other public services.
  • Stop the EU privatisation directives.

5. Fairness and justice

  • Pensioners: free heating & transport; link state pensions & benefits to average earnings; protect pension schemes & restore the lost value of private pensions.
  • Children: end child poverty by increasing child benefits & tax credits, & providing free nurseries & crèches.
  • Women: enforce equal pay for women
  • Young people: invest in young people & give them a real stake in the future; provide youth, community, arts & cultural centres, sports facilities & clubs for all; guarantee training, apprenticeships & education with universal grants & no fees.
  • Workers: restore union rights
  • Migrants: end racism & discrimination in all its forms; no scapegoating of migrant workers

6. Build a secure and sustainable future for all

  • End the cost of war in blood & money; bring our troops home; don’t waste £billions on a new generation of nuclear missiles.
  • Climate change threatens us all – our future must be based on massive investment for a greener, safer world now.
  • Debt is crushing millions of people, forcing them to move and producing war, famine and misery. Get rid of the debt economy in Britain and cancel the debt of impoverished countries worldwide.
  • Many of the unions and campaign groups have produced excellent literature on many of the above issues. The People’s Assembly is in a good position to pull all these strands together and to work out how these demands could be met.

We welcome any suggestions and comments.
How can we get these ideas and proposals out into the community?
What do we need to do to move towards putting the demands into practice?

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