Monday, 16 February 2015

Towards a Citizen’s Income

A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income paid to every individual as a right of citizenship. The Green Party have called for the statutory minimum wage to be immediately lifted to Living Wage levels and for a £10 per hour minimum wage for all by 2020. But longer term our target is a Citizen’s Income. As a party committed to social justice, measures such as the Citizen’s Income that redistribute wealth are central to our economic policy. Our creaking welfare system gets ever more complex, yet it often fails to provide security to those who need it most. In the longer run, a fundamental reform is needed where most of the complicated benefits, means tests and qualifying contributions are swept away, and all citizens receive, as of right, a universal basic income, or ‘Citizen’s Income’. A commitment to introducing a Citizen’s Income in the long term will be part of the Green Party’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election. Citizen’s Income represents a major structural change to the welfare system and requires wide and thorough consultation and input from stakeholders. Our manifesto working group is currently working on figures as a basis for that consultation, which will be available by the time of the manifesto release in late March 2015.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Green Candidates Back NHS Reinstatement Bill

Leslie Rowe, the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Richmond (Yorks) and one hundred other Green Party candidates for the May General Election have given their clear support for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 [1] and there is no sign of that support slowing down. This impressive wave of support reflects the Party’s core commitment to public services which are not privatised, but are true to their founding principles and can safely continue to be publicly owned for the future. Leslie Rowe commented: "The NHS is facing its biggest threat in sixty years, with the Tories and Lib Dem coalition championing the privatisation of the NHS through their Health and Social Care Act 2012. Another ConDem government will turn the NHS into nothing more than a logo for a privatised health service. The NHS Reinstatement Bill will reverse the privatisation process and protect the concept of a publicly funded, publicly provided health service." More candidates are adding their support all the time [you can see what the candidates in your area say here]. The NHS Reinstatement Bill frames a clear mechanism to protect the NHS against the damage of privatisation, in overturning key aspects of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and earlier legislation that set the NHS in England on the road to fragmentation – often without public consultation, and nearly always without their full awareness. As such, it reflects Green Party policy towards the NHS and other public institutions which have been threatened by privatisation and now stand on the brink of collapse as successive governments sought to sell them off for ideological reasons, and despite growing evidence that there is no strong financial argument supporting the privatisation agenda [2]. Far from being yet another ‘top-down, centralised, re-structuring’, crucially the NHS Reinstatement Bill hands responsibility for provision of service back to the Secretary of State for Health, something the HSCA severed [3] – thereby effectively uncoupling ultimate responsibility for the NHS from Parliament. It also spells out how, if the NHS is to be saved, it must: • Reinstate the government’s duty to provide the NHS in England. • Re-establish NHS England as a special health authority. • Re-establish District Health Authorities, with Family Health Services Committees to administer arrangements with GPs, dentists and others. • Abolish marketised bodies such as NHS foundation trusts, as well as Monitor, the regulator of NHS foundation trusts and commercial companies [4]. • Allow commercial companies to provide services only if the NHS could not do so and otherwise patients would suffer [5]. • Abolish competition [2]. • Re-establish Community Health Councils to represent the interest of the public. • Stop licence conditions imposed by Monitor on NHS foundation trusts. These will reduce the number of services that they currently have to provide from April 2016: the end of the universal service. • Bring the terms and conditions of NHS staff back under the NHS Staff Council [6]. • Prohibit ratification of treaties like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) without the approval of Parliament if they would cover the NHS [7]. Jillian Creasy is Health spokesperson for the Green Party, and prospective parliamentary candidate, Sheffield Central: “I fully support the NHS Reinstatement Bill. I qualified as a doctor in 1982. I have worked through the marketisation and privatisation of the Tory and Labour years and now the Coalition. Bringing in private providers does not only fragment services and leach money out of the public economy, it threatened the whole ethos of public service. Staff across the board have been forced to concentrate on prices and targets, instead of thinking about how to maximize the quality of care. Nothing short of complete reversal of privatisation will restore the NHS we know and love.” Professor Allyson Pollock worked with Peter Roderick, a lawyer, on the NHS Reinstatement Bill: “We’re delighted so many Green Party candidates have voiced their support. It’s encouraging to see candidates for a party which stands for responsible public ownership and an eye to the legacy we leave our descendants say they are behind us. Members of the public, parliamentary candidates, health professionals: all are coming forward to say enough is enough – and this Bill is the way back to a future health service we can be proud to think of protecting. Please, if you do nothing else before this election, ask your parliamentary candidates to say what they think of the NHS Reinstatement Bill and let us know.” Editors’ Notes [1] The Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill is a non-partisan campaign and has a wide range of support across the political spectrum ( ). It encourages the public to contact prospective parliamentary candidates in their constituency, determine their views on the Reinstatement Bill, and gain their support for it wherever possible: @nhsbill2015 The Campaign’s press officer is Alan Taman: 07870 757 309 [2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models. [Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon. [3] The HSCA has removed the Secretary of State for Health’s responsibility to provide as well as promote a universal, comprehensive health service in England. In effect, this has compromised parliament’s ultimate responsibility for the NHS. [Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 178-181.]The NHS Reinstatement Bill [] would restore this founding principle of the NHS, which has been undermined largely for ideological reasons and despite the evidence that inequalities in health are growing in the UK as a direct result of wider inequalities fostered by the same ideology [Dorling, D. (2013) Unequal Health: The scandal of our times. The Policy Press: London, Chapter 1]. [4] The Bill would ensure that any handover of employment for NHS staff from NHS FTs, CCGs and NHS trusts to the new NHS bodies was conducted with the full participation of Trade Unions and would require the Secretary of State for Health to make regulations setting out the terms and conditions of transfer. Overturning the current situation where long-established agreements with the workforce are being systematically overturned, to the detriment of many NHS staff. [5] The NHS has always used private firms, partnerships and individual traders to provide services it could not easily or as cost-effectively provide for itself, eg some legal services and construction of or repair to NHS buildings. What the NHS Reinstatement Bill does is end the current obligation on NHS services to use tendering to determine which organisation delivers front-line healthcare: this is pro-privatisation engineering and is an ongoing threat to the comprehensiveness of NHS care. [6] The Bill would ensure that any handover of employment for NHS staff from NHS FTs, CCGs and NHS trusts to the new NHS bodies was conducted with the full participation of Trade Unions and would require the Secretary of State for Health to make regulations setting out the terms and conditions of transfer. [7] The TTIP, if enacted as it stands currently, would make it very difficult for future governments to reverse the provision of healthcare by private organisations if they could show this would prove commercially damaging to them [ ].

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Leslie Rowe visit to Wensleydale School

As the Green Party’s general-election candidate for the Richmond constituency, I was impressed when I met pupils at Wensleydale School in Leyburn on Thursday 29th January 2015. A group of pupils from Years 7 to 11 questioned me on the Green party’s policies as part of the school’s ‘Lights, Camera, Parliament’ project. There were some excellent questions on dairy farming, electoral reform, the preponderence of public schoolboys in Parliament, nuclear power and my own personal campaigns. Notably, students were asking all candidates what they personally would do for the Richmond constituency, a question which I think William Hague, after twenty five years in the job, would find difficult to answer. After meeting the pupils, I commented: “They asked well-researched questions, followed up with supplementary questions and challenged my answers – just as voters should. The future of our democracy looks healthy in Wensleydale. I congratulate the school’s Headteacher, Graham Parker, and Charlie Barnett, the teacher who leads the project, on this innovative approach.” My visit to the school was just one event in my fact-finding tour of the constituency, which is chronicled on the Facebook page