END AUSTERITY NOW.
There is no need for ANY cuts to public spending; no need to decimate public services; no need for unemployment or pay and pension cuts; no need for Austerity and privatisation. There IS an alternative.
We need a government to reverse damaging austerity, and replace it with a new set of policies providing us with a fair, sustainable and secure future. We can no longer tolerate politicians looking out for themselves and for the rich and powerful. Our political representatives must start governing in the interests of the majority.
Below is a new statement about what we stand for today in post-Cameron, post-referendum Britain.
'IN PLACE OF AUSTERITY'
INVEST DON'T CUT
There is a housing crisis across Britain and homelessness is at an all-time high. Recession, unemployment, poverty, the Bedroom Tax and removing Council Tax rebates is resulting in many more people losing their homes through repossession and eviction.
There is a need for at least three million new homes yet council house building is at an all-time low. Speculative construction firms only follow the money. Local authorities have transferred their housing stock to private ownership or ‘arms length’ and other social housing bodies and now the Tory government intends to force housing associations to sell their homes into the private sector in the 'Right to Buy 2.'
Rents are rising dramatically which combined with cuts in housing benefit is forcing many working class people out of their traditional communities. We are in effect witnessing the ‘social cleansing’ of our cities.
Large numbers of construction workers remain unemployed while one in three council houses are in need of repair and waiting lists grow.
Disabled people have been hit disproportionately by austerity and cuts to benefits and DWP sanctions have led to the United Nations investigating the UK for violations of disabled people's rights.
Young people have been hit with cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance and the rise in tuition fees for those who attend University has seen massive debts, putting education out of reach for many working class people.
Instead of wasting money on military intervention or developing weapons of mass destruction, this money could be used mre effectively to invest in public services, housing and a range of projects that would provide employment and stimulate the economy. The cost of TrIdent replacement for example has been estimated at £205 billion over 30 years. Investment in sustainable jobs would stimulate the economy and provide people with proper, secure employment. A Defence Diversification Agency could transform areas where jobs are dependent on Trident and create more and better paid jobs
The Panama Papers exposed the super-rich hiding their wealth in tax havens on an industrial scale. According to HMRC, tax avoidance and evasion is costing the UK economy £16 billion per year as multinational companies exploit tax loopholes. The PCS research indicates that the 'tax gap' is as much as £119 billion. This is enough to plug the funding cuts to the NHS and provide free education for all.
A radical programme of Council House building
Rent controls and regulation of the private sector with secure tenancies and rights for tenants
End the sale of Council Houses and stop housing stock transfer
Scrap the Bedroom Tax
Close tax loopholes and stop tax avoidance and evasion
Invest in sustainable jobs
Scrap Trident and support the re-establishment of a Defence Diversification Agency
Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance
Scrap Tuition Fees - Reintroduce the Student Grant and Free Education
An end to DWP sanctions
Reinstate the Independent Living Fund and other benefits that have been axed by the government
Privatisation of public services, railways and utilities accelerated under Thatcher. Many will remember the adverts for British Gas and British Telecom in the 1980s as the Tories encouraged individuals to take out shares in utilities they already owned while selling-off public assets. The reality was of course very different as major shareholders were big business
In the early 1990s the John Major government initiated the privatisation of the UK's railways with a plethora of companies now owning different parts of the network from trains, the railway tracks, overhead cables etc. These have proved to be a disater for the public with rising prices and a poorer service while government subsidies have found their way into the pockets of private companies.
Royal Mail was sold off by the Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition government at £1 billion less than its real value and the result has been a poorer service and the closure of Post Offices across the country.
The state education system at all levels, from nursery education to HE (including secondary, adult, community and Further Education) is being subjected to huge cuts, fragmentation and privatisation.
Cuts in educational support services have opened up the sector to privatisation giants such as Capita, Serco and G4S, who make quick profits for poor services.
The Academy programme introduced by New Labour has been taken even further by the Tories with the majority of secondary schools and an increasing number of primary schools granted Academy status. Many have been taken over by Academy chains and services such as school meals and educational support services have been outsourced and handed over to the private sector.
The reintroduction of Grammar Schools will further divide society and lead to segregation.
Outsourcing has taken place across the NHS with cleaning, medical records, maintenance, HR, catering and other ancillary services among those that have been handed over to companies such as Serco, Compass, MediRest and ISS.
In Local Authorities, cuts to Central Government funding have seen many non-statutory services outsourced. This has seen large parts of activities undertaken by the public sector now conducted by private sector companies such as Capita. Care Homes have been sold-off to the likes of BUPA, Care UK and Four Seasons. Workers are often low-paid and conditions for residents are poor. In the most notorious case the collapse of Southern Cross saw an emergency with care home residents left in limbo, not knowing if their home was safe.
The Tories are extending privatisation into the NHS. The Private Finanace Initiative (PFI) introduced by John Major but expanded by the governments of Blair and Brown saw swathes of new hospital building in the 90s and 00s. But the price of PFI is now being paid as NHS Trusts are being plunged into massive debt
The Health and Social Care Act, introduced at a cost of £3billion, opened the door to the private sector on a previously unimaginable scale. And now the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are dividing the NHS into 44 footprints to drive through £22 billion in cuts by 2020. Accident and Emergency and Maternity services are included in those under threat of closure and the threat of privatisation looms large.
Many NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups have been rated as 'inadequate' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with some being taken into 'Special Measures. In most cases the poor CQC rating is due to financial issues. By deliberately cutting funding to the NHS the government can make the case that it isn't working and a new approach is neccessary; privatisation.
End the costly and inefficient NHS 'internal market' and the purchaser/provider split
Fight for a publicly funded, publicly owned and democratically accountable NHS, free at the point of delivery.
Nationalise the care sector
Renationalise the railways
Renationalise Royal Mail
Renationalise all utilities and other services
Bring back schools and related services into Local Authority control. No to reintroduction of Grammar Schools.
DEFEND WORKERS' RIGHTS
The UK has some of the most restrictive Labour laws in Western Europe. Workers work more hours per week, more days per year and more years to retirement than their European counterparts. A precarious workforce means that there are around 4.5 million people who are self-employed and many more on zero-hours or short-term contracts.
The exploitation of workers has been seen most dramatically in the so-called 'gig economy' with companies such as Deliveroo and Uber and also the appalling treatment of workers at Sports Direct. In many of these companies people are denied access to basic workers rights and in some instances have been found to be paying below the minimum wage.
The Trade Union Act introduced by the Tories built on the already draconian legislation left in place by New Labour.
We support the Insitute of Employment Rights Manifesto for Labour Law.
Repeal the Trade Union Act
Collective bargaining extended to the private sector
The right to strike
The removal of Tribunal fees
And end to zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment
A minimum wage of £10 per hour for all regardless of age
Employment rights from day one
NO RACIST SCAPEGOATING
Racism permeated both official camps during the EU debate. The Tories have ramped up racist rhetoric and have tried to blame immigration for the pressure on schools, hospitals and housing. But it is not migrants who have caused the problems in the NHS, they did not create the housing crisis etc. It is austerity and deliberate underfunding that has created these problems.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding as people are fleeing from countries that are being bombed and attacked through Western intervention. Thousands of people are in refugee camps in Calais and elsewhere living in squalid conditions and in desperate need of aid and sanctuary.
- We oppose any racist scapegoating
We oppose Western intervention that has created a humanitarian crisis as people flee bombs being dropped on their homes, towns and cities.
We say that refugees are welcome here and that the UK should give sanctuary and asylum.
*'In Place of Austerity' is not yet a fully developed programme but a basic outline of what the People's Assembly stand for and our vision of an alternative to austerity.
It will reflect the views, the debate and the discussion that will shape a full document that will be produced at a later date. The People's Conference will be part of those discussions.
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