A Queen’s speech for jobs and growth
The UK is currently experiencing its slowest ever recovery from its longest ever recession. At the heart of the Queen’s speech should be a policy platform that both tackles this urgent need for jobs and growth and that also reforms the welfare state and restructures the UK economy. Intergenerational and international fairness should also take centre stage. Here are a handful of top priorities.
Preventing worklessness bill
A bill to end long-term unemployment by guaranteeing work to any person on JSA who does not find employment during their time on the Work Programme. These would be newly created jobs, of at least six months in duration and paid at least the minimum wage. Failure to take up these jobs would result in the removal of unemployment benefit.
Intergenerational fairness bill
A bill to restrict Winter Fuel Allowance, free TV licences and free bus passes to older people in receipt of Pension Credit to release resources to extend childcare for families with young children. Further funds could be raised by restricting higher rate tax relief for higher rate pension contributions.
Universal childcare bill
A bill to establish the legal framework for gradually extending access to high quality childcare for pre-school children, with a substantial amount free and a cap on the remaining costs for parents. As a first step, 15 hours of free childcare would be provided for all two year olds. IPPR’s cost-benefit analysis shows that universal childcare pays a return to the Treasury of £20,050 (over four years) in terms of tax revenue minus the cost of childcare for every woman who returns to full-time employment after one year of maternity leave.
National salary insurance bill
A Bill to improve income protection for working people who lose their jobs, providing anyone who had made sufficient NICs with access to up to £200 a week for up to six months while they look for a new job, repaid via an income-contingent loan, with a zero real rate of interest.
A bill to purchase all remaining shares in RBS and to split it into a ‘bad bank’ holding discounted assets and a ‘good bank’ focused on retail banking activities and with adequate capital to allow it to increase substantially its lending to UK companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.
British investment bank bill
A bill to establish a fully-fledged National Investment Bank, initially capitalised with £10 billion and with the ability to issues bonds to raise further funds from financial institutions, insurance companies and pension funds. The bank would be given the remit of lending primarily for large infrastructure projects that will produce future returns, including toll roads and upgrading the rail network.
Overseas development assistance bill
A bill to enshrine in law the commitment to meet UN target of 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI spend by 2013. The internationally recognised OECD definition should apply to all spending included as ‘overseas development assistance’, with a requirement to report to parliament annually on progress towards the target and quarterly on both value for money for the UK taxpayer and aid effectiveness.