In May 2015 a new progressive government could take office. Following one of the most unpredictable elections in decades, it will be a huge task to set down clear priorities that can begin to restore fairness and challenge inequalities in wealth and power. The first 100 days of the next government will determine not just the immediate changes that can be achieved, but the path of future progressive reforms.
This guide outlines the pressures facing the social security system caused by Coalition reforms, rising poverty and deep cuts to spending. Drawing attention to benefit cuts, the effects of the sanction regime, the stigmatisation faced by benefit claimants and the growth of food banks, this guide will expose the failings of the current system and show how policies to invest in social security can begin to tackle ingrained poverty and support people in and out of work.
This guide outlines the state of the housing crisis, with rents rocketing in the private sector, social housing waiting lists rapidly rising, the impact of Coalition welfare reforms and a failure to build enough affordable homes. The publication will show that by building the homes we need and protecting tenants' rights with rent controls and better regulations the crisis can be solved within a generation.
This guide outlines the scale of the fall in living standards since 2008, the explosion of low-wage, insecure work and how working people and their unions have seen their rights attacked. By explaining the link between strong trade unions, widespread collective bargaining and lower inequality the pamphlet suggests short and long term policy interventions that would improve the living standards of working people and begin to steer the economy in a more equitable direction with collective bargaining at its core.
This accessible pamphlet by leading academics Lydia Hayes and Tonia Novitz looks in depth at the role of trade unions in the economy and the link between strong trade unionism and more equal societies.
Over the last year, Class, Unionstogether and the Trade Union Group of MPs have collaborated on a series of regional events to discuss the living standards crisis and the steps that you think should be taken to address it. This publication is the culmination of the issues identified and the solutions proposed by those attending these regional events and interacting through social media with our #GBripoff campaign.
This paper outlines the unique role that local authorities can play and sets out a vision of how local government can be enabled to make a difference for the better. It argues for a fairer distribution of funding, for councils to borrow to build more homes, and for funding and powers to be devolved where councils are best-placed to act. It makes the case for the potential benefits of in-house services to be built into councils' operations and for local authorities to be empowered to use their procurement powers to tackle the low-wage economy and improve vital frontline services.
This Think Piece examines the overarching themes that run through our series, 'In the public interest: the role of the modern state.' It critically examines the evolving functions of the state in the UK, EU and USA. The piece emphasises that it is urgent that the prevailing neoliberal mould is broken, a new social contract is urgently forged, and a positive narrative developed as to the function, capabilities and extraordinary resources that a proactive state can command.
Drawing on a range of evidence, this short Think Piece looks at the role of the labour movement in achieving a more equal society. The weakening of the labour movement during the last quarter of the 20th Century has had a significant impact on the ability of working people to influence their standard of living and quality of life. This paper argues that we must now recreate a movement with the political and social influence that enabled the former labour movement to achieve the major reductions in inequality during the middle decades of the 20th Century.
This essay examines the concept of a Social Europe, a concept which put the values of collectivism, equality and solidarity, firmly at the heart of the EU. This paper was asks whether a left agenda for Europe could promote a renewed focus on securing a Social Europe and with it a ‘Social Britain’.
Our factsheets feature the best articles, the most relevant statistics, and the most up-to-date information to get you clued up on the issues everybody is debating. This factsheet focuses on bankers' bonuses - set to be big news in the coming weeks as RBS gears up to award its staff massive payouts.
The authors of this Class and Institute of Employment Rights joint report set out a timely argument for the introduction of a statutory framework for collective bargaining. Keith Ewing and John Hendy trace the historical background to the current economic crisis – including the dismantling of trade union rights by successive governments since 1980 – and set out a viable alternative for economic growth based on international law and best European practices. The end result is a considered and fully evidence-based policy recommendation summed up in a succinct ten point manifesto for collective bargaining.
This paper argues that the increased involvement of the private sector in the education system has resulted in selection processes which favour the privileged and neglected the poor. The reluctance of the state to be involved in the education system has made it messy, patchy and diverse. The current system of education in England is beginning to resemble some aspects of the pre-1870 system of education. The paper calls for a new 'back to basics' approach which considers the purpose of education and what it means to be educated. This means an end to the focus on standardised testing and performance, and a greater involvement of communities, students, parents and teachers.
Exposing the myths that austerity has 'saved the economy', 'reduced debt', 'brought down borrowing' and 'kick-started recovery' - this Class briefing gives the facts and realities behind the lies. This pamphlet has been produced to expose the Coalition Government’s lies and prove that there are alternative routes back to jobs, higher living standards and economic recovery. Austerity hasn’t worked and it won’t work.
Self-regulated payday lenders have exploded on the consumer credit scene since the recession and financially vulnerable individuals are now starting to feel the impact of this new type of lender on the high street. This paper shows that over a million people took out payday loans in 2012. Much of this borrowing is to pay for food and other essentials or bills – not the outcome of financial imprudence that some would have you believe.
This paper shows that the 1930s were the last time the population of Britain was as polarised in terms of their health as we are today. It was not simply the introduction of the NHS that halved inequalities in health in Britain between the 1930s and early 1950s. The overall improvement in living standards brought about by the introduction of the welfare state had a significant impact. When it comes to providing a health service, it is harder to provide a good health service in a more economically unequal country. This paper suggests that policies 'in place of fear' need not be costly but they need to present a genuine commitment to tackling inequality.
Proponents of the argument that tax-financed or ‘free’ health care is a privilege we can no longer afford are unable to explain why universal health care was instituted when the world’s economy was very much smaller than it is today. This paper asks - if the UK could create an NHS when the country was literally bankrupt, why in England (but not in Scotland or Wales) can the government not sustain the NHS today? They suggest the answer is political and not financial and that the response of the left must be political too.
This paper argues that our current land economy does not serve us well. In response, it proposes a Land Value Tax for the UK. A Land Value Tax, targeted at unproductive wealth and speculation, could help deliver the house-building revolution – and the economic revival – our country desperately needs. In the end though, the proposition is simple. The few who own this land of ours should not get off tax-free while too many people cannot afford a decent home.
This paper seeks to show that the policy of austerity that has increased idleness and has now given rise to the additional problem of disguised underemployment, makes no economic sense. Focusing on fiscal and taxation policies, Richard Murphy and Howard Reed argue that, as in Beveridge's time, the global recession now provides another revolutionary moment in which new thinking is required.
Universalism is once again edging up the political agenda. This underlying principle behind the welfare state has always been reviled by those who wish to see it dismantled, but more immediately concerning is a growing acceptance that in order to protect vital public services the ideal of universal coverage should be abandoned in favour of selectivity. Due to these concerns, this paper puts forward the case for universalism by examining its effects on society; the economy; taxation, redistribution and equality; and political philosophy, whilst debating, in contrast, the problems that come with selectivity.
This pamphlet is the first in a series of mythbusters from Class and Red Pepper, designed to expose the realities behind the recurring myths which often scew the debate on welfare.
'Tackling Squalor' was commissioned as part of the Social State series to address the Giant Evil of ‘squalor’ and propose new policy priorities for housing in 2015 Britain. This paper argues that the best way to counter the residualisation of social housing and the spatial concentration of social housing tenants is to radically increase the supply of social housing.
With an abundance of evidence, Why Inequality Matters shows that the scourge of inequality has had a real role in the current economic crisis. The pursuit of equality is not just a moral imperative, not just vital for the poor and for the social cohesion and wellbeing of society, it is also necessary for a stable economy.
The current policy status quo is one that valorizes choice whilst rarely recognizing that choices come with resources that remain very unequally distributed. Tinkering with an unjust educational system is not going to transform it into a just system. The building blocks of a socially just educational system lie outside in wider society, but before any building can be done the right foundations must be laid. This paper outlines some of the ideas behind what it may take to achieve a socially just education system.
This Think Piece argues that if the UK is to achieve a sustainable recovery from the current financial crisis, the wage share needs to be restored to post-war levels and the great concentrations of income and wealth broken up.