The likelihood of this manifesto being enacted is probably about the same as aliens invading Britain the same day you’re struck by lightning and win the lottery jackpot. As we’ve seen with intention of the Women’s Equality Party manifesto, a good outcome for the party would be to see some of these policies in future manifestos of bigger parties.
The shortest manifesto yet (only 26 pages!) opens with four key promises on a vote on the final Brexit deal; affordable homes and a free public health system; an equal society; and, of course, to act strongly on climate change. The first specific policy is a promise to work towards universal basic income, cementing the party’s reputation as being quick to endorse progressive policy trends.
The policies that most affect local government are summarised below:
- Increase funding for local authorities for good quality public services
- A government-sponsored pilot scheme for universal basic income
- Increase the minimum wage to reach £10 per hour by 2020 and scrap age-related wage bands
- Create a network of local people’s banks for every city and region using RBS
- Reinstate higher level of corporation tax for large businesses
- Promote small businesses, co-operatives, and mutual, including by using community credit and green investment to support start-ups and creative enterprises.
- A review of how public services are structured per the needs of people.
- Redressing benefits and pensions injustice including abolishing bedroom tax
- Nationalise energy, water, railways, buses, the Royal Mail and care work
- Free local public transport for young people, students, people with disabilities, and older people.
Health & Social Care
- Scrap STPs
- Roll back NHS privatisation via an NHS Reinstatement Act
- Greater integration with a single budget covering health and social services
- Major investment in social care for elderly and anyone who needs it
- An assessment of how care is provided at the age of 18.
- More funding for sexual health awareness campaigns, greater access to free condoms and sexual health clinics
- Target public health crisis caused by air pollution by further incentivising the removal of diesel vehicles from roads.
- Back community-led approached to building homes, specifically build affordable, zero carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes each year by 2022
- Bring empty homes into use and trial Land Value Tax
- Axe buy-to-let tax breaks
- A living rent for all through rent controls and more secure tenancies for private renters and ntroduction of mandatory licensing for all landlords
- End mass council house sales and scrap Right to Buy at discounted prices
- Invest in community house-building projects to provide affordable, secure housing options for young people.
- Give local authorities the same duties towards single people and childless couples as to families.
- Significantly improve housing choice for D/deaf, disabled and older people by requiring all councils to appropriately plan for their housing needs
- Significantly increase the numbers of homes built to lifetime home and mobility standards over the next 5 years.
- Reinstate housing benefit for under-21s and stop local authorities declaring young people “intentionally homeless”
- Bring academies and free schools into the local authority system
- Free universal early education and childcare for all children
- Disband the Prevent strategy in favour of community-led approaches to tackling extremism
- Investment in flood defences and natural flood management
- Community-owned energy and replacing existing energy sources with clean, renewable ones
- Invest in low traffic neighbourhoods and routes for walking and cycling
- Public works programme of insulation for homes
- Give power to local communities by allowing for 40% of the local electorate to secure a referendum on local government decisions or to recall their MP
- Lowering voting age to 16
- Proportional representation for parliamentary and local elections
- Introducing political education and promoting active citizenship
Whilst there isn’t a great deal of focus on local government and no mention of devolution, there are some noteworthy proposals to increase or return power to councils. The most significant perhaps is bringing academies and free schools back into local authority control. There is also an emphasis on promoting the importance of local democracy by allowing referendums on local government decisions. There is great attention on reforming housing policy, with an ambitious promise of 100,000 socially-rented homes a year by 2022. The promise to scrap STPs is significant but offers no explanation or alternative.
As the shortest manifesto yet, the Greens have gone for brevity over breadth. This does mean there is a lack of costings, but it’s perhaps unsurprising for a party highly unlikely to form the next government. It will be interesting to see, however, which of these policies will feature in upcoming manifestos from other parties.