Class (thinktank) #SocialState meeting

notes at LSE meeting 13 March 2013. Lots of speakers.

  • Chair: Dr Robin Archer, LSE
  • Kate Bell, Child Poverty Action Group. Hardening of attitudes to equality among UK people. But we know poverty can be fixed with outcomes rising during labour govt; much better poverty records for other countries; we know universal benefits much more efficient than targeted/means-tested ones; The unsolved problem is about in-work poverty – partly low pay (fell mainly in 80s) and partly falling hours.  avoid words ‘poverty’ ‘welfare’, stress positive and universal needs and benefits. For more on @kategobell‘s thoughts on a #SocialState you can read her paper here .      Likes the insurance aspect of Beveridges’ scheme. Likes the way some disabled activists refer to the rest of us as the “not yet disabled”.
  • Duncan Bowie, University of Westminster. Last 5 governments have been wrong in focussing on individual capital gains through owner-occupation  Hsg now a major driver of inequality, diversion of investment from productive uses; major cause of crunch. Alternative strategy should not just meet needs but also housing as social investment for the long run. (See his pamphlet on “squalor” from CLASSonline ) Insecurity now being spread from private renting to social renting – removing one of the few securities poor people had. Need massive prog of social rented building for a wide range of people, including in posh areas….And tough regulation of Housing Associations. Reliance on cross-subsidy from private devel must end, with its tendency to displace and to double densities on estates. // Localism embeds self-interest and is likely to be bad for the weakest.
  • John Hendy QC  Industrial relations law. Rights to collective bargaining and to strike very important indeed. ILO is from 1919, has govts+employers+unions from the whole world. Crucial conventions: 87 is right to strike; 98 on collective bargaining. Employers walked out of a recent ILO meeting saying right to strike now has no place. Britain is now an international law breaker for its laws on strikes and bargaining. Proportion of UK workers protected by collective agreements fell from 80% (or 82%?) in 1979 to 30% today, mainy because of reduced rights to strike; EU average still about 80%.
  • Howard Reed, Landman Economics – just about to publish a paper calling for a min income for all (MIS) funded from tax. Replace Income tax and NI with a new income tax covering all incomes, average 45% but graduated from a low personal allowance (you don’t need it because of MIS). Separate housing benefit. Make sure no-one has a marginal rate >60%. Replace CT with LVT. // Wonders whether Tories really believed they could turn economy round with austerity or was it a blind?  Tends to think they really thought it might work.
  • Zoe Williams, The Guardian (I was late and missed her talk. She was on first) Later: some discussion of tensions between red and green. ZW thinks some of the tensions can be cracked on energy, etc, issues. Both left and greens need some optimism to cooperate effectively.

Alan Spence, now very old, sticking up for cooperatives as a way to protect and create jobs. John Hendy says UNITE is thinking creatively, and remember Mondragon.

Good meeting, mostly. No revolution but a big crowd supporting progressive stuff.



Author: Editors


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