Objective 3

An Economy For All

Political reform will not of itself create a prosperous and egalitarian society. This also demands a clear break from the neo-liberal, public-is-bad/private-is-good interpretation of neoclassical economics, which has underpinned the policies of all recent governments. But this must not mean resurrecting public-is-good/private-is-bad dogmas, which have led to division, economic failure and disenchantment in the past. For the Government to function effectively, debt must be honestly defined and the budget deficit kept within limits compatible with borrowing at competitive rates, but this must be done in a way which protects all sections of society.

 

Transforming a neo-liberal mono-culture into a vibrant society of opportunity for all will require a much clearer commitment by government to create the conditions for successful entrepreneurship, to reform business governance and to catch up with our competitors in building a globally competitive, knowledge-based economyHuge discrepancies in wealth and income raise profound questions of ethics, welfare and the efficient use of resources. But experience shows that, in an open market economy, fairness will never be achieved through top-down changes to taxation alone.

Many of the structural changes that have occurred in the economy in recent decades result from advances in technology, transport and communications, but there is no fundamental reason why these should have caused the dramatic increase in inequality that has occurred in the UK. A more convincing explanation is that politicians have uncritically accepted short-term profitability as the benchmark for success. This has encouraged the view that efficiency requires top-down decision-taking focused solely on the interests of shareholders. The Party recognises that the best way to promote well-being is by fostering synergies between the public and private sectors in a predominantly market-driven economy, while ensuring that prosperity is spread throughout society. But for this to happen will require change that goes far beyond the compass of the industrial strategy published by the current Government.

 

What Went Wrong?

Many of the structural changes that have occurred in the economy in recent decades result from advances in technology, transport and communications, but there is no fundamental reason why these should have been accompanied by the dramatic increase in inequality that has occurred in the UK. A more convincing reason is that politicians have uncritically accepted short-term profitability as the benchmark for success. This has encouraged the view that efficiency requires top-down decision-taking focused solely on the interests of shareholders. The Party recognises that the best way to promote well-being is by fostering synergies between the public and private sectors in a predominantly market-driven economy, while ensuring that prosperity is spread throughout society. But for this to happen will require far-reaching change.

In the Post War decades, politicians from both sides of the political divide agreed that the state should play a leading role in ensuring prosperity for all. The NHS brought improved health, slums were replaced with social housing, and full employment led to rising living standards for most people. The UK was still a major manufacturing country, which spread prosperity between regions, and by the 1970s, it had become the second most equal of the major European nations. But with the adoption of a neo-conservative framework in 1979, this achievement evaporated. On the generally accepted GINI index, the UK fell from 0.31 in 1985 to 0.35 in 2013, coming 23rd out of 27 OECD countries in terms of equality, while a cluster of Nordic countries achieved ratings of around 0.27.

Defenders of the neo-conservative model assert that the negative impacts of inequality are more than balanced by faster growth, but OECD figures show the opposite. Nine of the 12 OECD nations with the greatest income equality (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands) enjoy higher average incomes than the UK. IMF studies demonstrate a robust correlation between greater equality and faster and more durable economic growth, while the OECD has estimated that growth in the UK would have been a fifth higher over the period 1985-2005 had income inequality not increased.

Crisis and Austerity

In response to the banking crisis of 2008, Gordon Brown encouraged the Bank of England to pump £450 billion into the private banking system (through so called “quantitative easing”) and to reduce the bank rate to 0.5%. While this probably helped stave off recession, it greatly increased public debt. It also had the perverse effect of inflating the price of equities and housing as crisis-hit private banks channelled extra liquidity in low-risk assets rather than business recovery – enriching people with property and shares at the expense of those who depend on pensions and interest on savings accounts.

From 2010, the Coalition sought to tackle public debt by reducing the gap between annual government expenditure and income (the budget deficit) while containing tax increases by cutting public spending. Even by its own parameters, this approach clearly failed. It never achieved the reduction in the deficit and debt that the Chancellor predicted but hit those who depend most on public services. While the level of employment held up, real wages, job security and productivity fell, threatening the prospects for future growth.

The Government could have cut the cost of borrowing while at the same time allowing public authorities to take advantage of very low interest rates to upgrade infrastructure and build social housing. But none of the political parties were willing to challenge the dominant orthodoxy by turning to the public sector to stimulate growth. At the same time, taxes should have been increased to reduce the budget deficit while protecting essential public services.

Instead, The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government chose hold down fuel tax duty, at a cost of over £40 billion between 2010 and 2018, cut Corporation Tax to almost the lowest rate in the industrial world and protected the owners of the most expensive houses from realistic levels of council tax – while doing nothing meaningful to tackle rapidly rising homelessness.

While the number of people in work rose, many faced a sharp deterioration in the quality of employment, with few secure jobs available and over a million people in work but earning so little that they were forced depend on benefits to house and feed their families. The neo-conservative model has also created an economy where wages, insecurity and one-sided, zero hours contracts encourage employers to take on and lay off staff rather than invest in new skills and machinery. As a result, productivity has scarcely increased over the past decade, while incomes have failed to keep pace with the growth in GDP.

 

The Radical Party Proposes:

  • Partnership-Based Economic Leadership
  • Honesty in Public Finance
  • Fair and Effective Taxation
  • Secure, Well Paid, Productive Work
  • A Robust and Diverse Economy
  • Investment in Skills and Infrastructure

 

Partnership-Based Economic Leadership 

Experience around the world shows that a pre-dominantly market economy with an environment that favours long term investment, learning and the efficient deployment of resources is the best means to achieve sustainable growth. To help to achieve these aims, the Party proposes that an Economic Development Council be created at the national level made up of representatives of employers’ organisations, trade unions and the regions.

This should not seek to plan, as similar structures did in the 1960s and 70s, but to bring government, employers and trade unions together in support of a broad-based development strategy. It should explore emerging economic opportunities by commissioning research and making recommendations to government. And it should have a statutory right to publish independent reports and meet periodically with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and other relevant ministers. Addressing the country’s serious deficits in training, support for research and development and investment in the regions should be high priorities. As part of this, the Council should also contribute to identifying priority areas for research, to help guide public funding relevant to medium and long-term business growth.

The Government should develop a strategy with a demanding timetable for reducing regional economic disparities through enhanced funding for education, training and infrastructure in disadvantaged areas. A network of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) should be created to work under the aegis of the proposed regional tier of government to stimulate economic development and employment creation, focusing on regions outside London and the South East on the pattern of the Scottish Regional Development Agency.

These should work with employers, trade unions, universities and local planning authorities to promote the development of their local economies across all sectors, with a special focus on skills and investment in areas of business capable of generating high quality jobs and export led growth.

To support the RDAs, a Regional Development Bank should be created to work alongside the proposed Scottish National Investment Bank, with headquarters in one of the regions. This should provide long-term equity finance for small and medium sized businesses in poorer regions. In regions with income above the national average, the bank should focus on supporting knowledge-based start-ups and small companies with growth potential and work closely with research-strong universities and institutes. The Regional Development Bank should be required to consult with the RDAs and to take their recommendations into account in formulating its investment priorities.

 

Honesty in Public Finance

The Party believes that debt should be maintained at a level which preserves the capacity to borrow, while protecting public services through careful management and balanced tax increases. The Treasury’s definition of public debt should be reformed to make it easier for Government to invest in marketable assets such as power stations and energy storage and for local authorities to invest in social housing.

The practice of off-loading the obligation to repay borrowing for investment projects was developed in the 1980s by left-wing Labour controlled London boroughs to circumvent restrictions imposed by Mrs Thatcher and that time was widely denounced as financial charlatanism. It was later taken up by the Blair Government in the form of the Public Finance Initiative (PFI), at a time when US and British financiers were selling off interest-yielding housing debt through what came to be known as securitisation. Despite the 2008 banking crisis, which resulted directly from securitisation, subsequent Coalition and Conservative governments continued to develop opaque mechanisms for shifting the obligation to repay debt from current voters onto the shoulders of future consumers.

They sold off outstanding student loans at a discount (ignoring the fact that this would massively increase long-term borrowing), imposed a fixed 60-year obligation to repay the cost of building the Hinkley C power station on consumers (whatever the future market cost of electricity), and are now exploring new complex devices to finance new nuclear power stations, despite the fact that this could be achieved transparently and at much lower cost by issuing long-term, low-interest government bonds.

The Party considers that to minimise the scope for cushioning current expenditure at the expense of future taxpayers and consumers, a code of conduct should be drawn up and the Office of Budget Responsibility charged with ensuring transparency by identifying off-budget spending initiatives where the government in reality remains ultimately liable. The Office of National Statistics should also be reformed and strengthened to prevent a repetition of the scandal of its having failed for years to highlight the obvious fact that sums paid over the universities out of student loans which would never be repaid would eventually have to be reflected in the public accounts.    

 

Fair and Effective Taxation

Calls for changes in the tax system to create a fairer distribution of income and wealth are regularly met by the claim that the UK is over-taxed compared with other countries and that higher taxes would inevitably lead to lower economic growth. But OECD figures do not support this conclusion: government revenue as a share of GDP among 35 OECD member countries averages 45% with the UK, at 38%, being the fifteenth lowest. Corporation Tax at 19% is the lowest among comparable OECD member states, apart from Ireland.

At the same time, the UK’s top rate of tax at 45% is equal to, or lower than, the rates in Austria (59%), Australia (55%), Denmark (56%), Finland (55%), and Germany (55%), all of which have higher income per head than the UK. Moreover, experience in these countries belies the frequent assertion that modest increases in tax on higher incomes would lead to an exodus of capital and skills, as these countries are magnets for investment and skilled workers from around the world.

To achieve an appropriate balance between spending and revenue, increases should be made in both direct and indirect taxes, with the focus on taxes which are progressive and difficult to avoid. The Party would be prepared, as necessary and prudent, to increase taxes in a balanced and reasonable manner to rebuild essential public services and ensure the basis exists for future economic growth. Corporation Tax should be increased from its current exceptionally low rate of 19% to bring it into line with those of our main trading partners and a carbon tax phased in, with transitional arrangements for sectors which are carbon-dependent and exposed to international competition.

Increasing compliance and tackling exemptions

The Party believes that, all things being equal, a lower rate of tax with a higher level of compliance is far preferable to the opposite. To achieve this, the resources available to HMRC should be increased, which would more than pay for itself through improved compliance. A determined campaign is needed to reduce avoidance, with the Government estimating that some £30 billion of tax due is never collected and that the black economy costs society a further £60 billion of lost revenue. Immediate steps are needed to ensure that existing legislation works as Parliament intended by closing loopholes, stepping up efforts to ensure transparency and tackling tax minimisation through devices such as trusts.

At the same time, a stringent review should be carried out of all individual and corporate tax exemptions to ensure they meet public interest criteria and are equitable. The yield from Income tax was £182.1 billion in 2017/17 with exemptions (excluding those directly designed to protect people on low incomes, such as personal allowances on Income Tax and National Insurance and the zero rating of food) costing the Exchequer over £200 billion a year.

The Party believes that public revenues could be substantially increased by curtailing tax exemptions and that such a policy would increase transparency, provide extra funding for priority areas of public provision and help to bring about greater equality and fairness. Inheritance tax exemptions should be reformed to help fund priority public spending, ensure that large estates pay their fair share and encourage inherited wealth to be spread more widely.

Allowances on pension contributions cost the Treasury £23 billion in 2016/17 as a result of a system which the Centre for Policy Studies described in 2012 as: “crude and mis-directed” and as doing: “little to encourage a savings culture amongst younger workers” – with 68% of pensions contribution relief going to higher and additional rate tax payers. Tax exemptions on pension contributions should ensure that pensioners have financial security and independence in old age, not create an avenue for tax minimisation for people who are already well-off. To that end, the Party considers that higher rate tax relief on contributions should be removed, saving some £7 billion a year, and the ceiling on the maximum that can be accumulated in a tax-exempt pension fund reduced from the current limit of £1.03 million to £800,000 (which would currently generate a pension, with the basic state pension, of  about £40,000 a year.

ISAs, at an annual cost of £2.75 billion, should be reformed as should exemptions for donations to registered charities, which cost the Treasury £1.9 billion a year and are based upon a system which is among the most lax in the developed world.

Currently, according to the Financial Times, a gift to a charity of £1 million by an additional rate tax payer really only costs the donor £435,000, with the balance of £565,000 coming from public resources. Research in the UK and the US indicates that tax exemptions have little effect on the level of charitable giving, while often directing resources to causes which should either be funded from other sources or are of little or no value to society.

While the UK itself has a fairly transparent tax system, the ability of financial institutions to outsource secrecy to Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories puts it at the centre of the largest tax secrecy network in the world. A determined drive to tackle tax evasion embracing all British territories should be carried out as part of an international effort to curtail tax havens around the globe. At the same time, measures should be adopted to prevent foreign-based companies which are active in the UK from avoiding paying tax here by transferring profits to low tax locations abroad.

 

Secure, Well Paid, Productive Work

The labour market has undergone enormous changes over the last four decades because of legislation promoting flexibility, globalisation and the impact of new technologies and work organisation. Trade union membership has halved and lifelong employment has been replaced in many parts of the economy by self-employment, short-term contracts and part-time work. Flexibility can be beneficial, helping resources to flow rapidly into fast growing areas of the economy and giving individuals a wider choice of employment options. But in the absence of proper regulation it also encourages exploitation and impedes productivity growth, the key to future prosperity.

Ending low pay

Low pay not only blights lives but also holds back skills development and productivity growth. The minimum wage should be progressively raised to the level of the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage, and legislation enforced with greater vigour in cafes, clothing workshops, car washes and nail bars, which have a track record of employing people who are young, isolated, or speak little English. HMRC has the central role in enforcing the minimum wage, but employees of other agencies, such as local authorities, who have regular contact with places of employment, should also play a greater part in identifying workers who are being exploited.

It is essential that the minimum wage is treated as a stepping stone to progression to better remuneration and is not seen as a ceiling on employers’ and society’s responsibilities. Reflecting the central role that empowerment plays in the Party’s proposals for a fairer Britain, trade unions should be given special rights to contact and recruit employees in organisations which cannot demonstrate that they are paying all their staff the Living Wage.

 

A  Robust and Diverse Economy

Privatisation and de-mutualisation under Conservative and Labour governments has reduced pluralism in the UK and left large businesses over-dependant on mobile equity capital. This contrasts with the situation elsewhere in Europe, where family, mutual, municipal, investment banks, state ownership and stakeholder-based company governance systems foster long-term planning, R and D and workforce engagement.

Over-dependence on mobile capital has had far-reaching consequences for the British economy. The tolerance of extreme risk-taking nurtured by shareholder-value ideology, short-term horizons, exaggerated bonuses and inadequate governance controls led directly to the banking crisis of 2008. It has also involved the loss of headquarters functions and skilled employment as companies, many with technologies developed on the basis of publicly funded research have been sold to foreign-based investors.

Tackling short-termism

The Radical Party stands for responsible economic management based on a vigorous, efficient, knowledge-based market economy with a plurality of forms of ownership, including private, equity, mutual and (where investment returns are long-term or strategic interests are involved) public ownership. A sustained effort is needed to re-balance the economy focusing on measures to address issues of governance, business ownership and diversity.

The first step should be to reform company governance by amending the Companies Act of 2006 to give directors a clear responsibility for ensuring the long-term sustainability. All companies should be required to spell out, and take account of, stakeholder interests in major decisions affecting employees, host communities, customers and intellectual property.

The Party does not believe that companies should be obliged to include employee representatives on Boards, which can lead to conflicts of interest and impinge on the proper role of trade unions. Rather, large utility and essential service companies (in sectors such as transport) should be required to establish multi-stakeholder supervisory boards, with clearly defined responsibilities where strategic issues are concerned. All other large companies should be required to establish supervisory boards unless they adopt other effective mechanisms for reflecting the interests of their major stakeholders.

At the same time, the remit of the Competition and Markets Authority should be strengthened to take account of the long-term impact of large or strategically significant mergers and takeovers on employment, regional development and advanced skills and technology.

Promoting a plural economy

The privatisation of building societies and insurance and pension providers such as Northern Rock, Standard Life and Abbey National, helped trigger the 2008 banking crisis and removed the opportunity for lay people to influence decisions affecting their own future well-being. Though pioneered in the UK, co-operatives now play a smaller role in Britain than they do in most OECD countries – despite clear evidence that they have a significantly higher chance of surviving their first three years than other business start-ups and have lower staff turnover and more equal pay structures.

There is much that government can do to encourage a more plural, flexible, sustainable and democratic economy. Regulations should be introduced to protect the use of the term co-operative and Treasury procedures clarified to remove possible ambiguities over the right of co-operatives to use member share capital for investment. A 110% inheritance tax concession should be introduced for company owners who follow John Lewis’s example and provide for their enterprises to become viable worker-owned businesses.

The Government should support the creation of co-operative development agencies at the regional level as part of a drive to increase the number of viable consumer and employee-owned co-ops substantially from the current total of about 6,000. The possibility of promoting co-operative participation in parts of the rail transport system, where the current privatised system is failing to deliver and where customers (such as commuters) have a long-term stake in the service, should be actively explored.

Public ownership

At the same time, hostility to public ownership should be replaced by a pragmatic, evidence-based, approach, which would allow for learning from experience in other advanced economies. The problem with the post-war UK model was not fundamentally to do with ownership but with the fact that it produced monopolies that were protected from competition in their own sectors, prevented by law from exploiting opportunities in new areas, and constrained in rationalising their use of resources by a confrontational system of industrial relations.

But social market countries that were free from the dogma that promoted nationalisation as an end in itself have had a very different experience of public ownership. The French state-owned railways put Britain’s privatised network to shame; the regional government stake in Volkswagen has anchored investment in German plants; in Sweden, Vattenfall has expanded energy sales across Europe; while the Parador chain has served for over ninety years as a benchmark of high-quality Spanish hospitality and cuisine, protected from the threat of asset-stripping or takeover by acquisitive one-size-fits-all international hotel chains.

The Radical Party, therefore, believes that public sector equity should play a role in a strategy to build a robust and plural market economy – to promote diversity and choice; in sectors (such as power generation) where returns are too long-term for private investors; to bridge the funding gap for new-technology start-ups; and where it is in the national interest to protect strategically important knowledge, skills and capabilities.

Public dissatisfaction with state monopolies in customer-fronting areas of business, such as public transport, set the scene for the Mrs Thatcher’s neo-conservative revolution, but the best way to deal with one kind of dogma is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and replace it with another, but to avoid making the same mistakes in future by learning from both strengths and weaknesses.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing’s share in the UK economy has declined dramatically in recent decades. After leading the industrial revolution, it fell from 20th to 188th place in the World between 1970 and 2015 in terms of manufacturing as a percentage of GDP, according to the House of Commons Library. In absolute terms, it fell from 6th to 9th place between 2004 and 2015 in terms of output to end up with the smallest manufacturing sector in relation to its size of any of the major OECD economies.

Apologists for neo-conservatism claim that this decline is a sign  of progress, as services replace manufacturing in advanced economies, but comparisons show this claim to be ill-founded. While manufacturing’s share of output fell in Germany from 29% in 1980 to 23% in 2015, in Japan from 27% to 19%, and in Switzerland from 24% to 18%, in the UK, it dropped from 23% to 10%. This in turn has depressed productivity growth as the UK has missed out on the benefit of advances in technology, which have caused output per head to rise more rapidly manufacturing than in other sectors of the economy.

This decline has also contributed to a huge trade deficit, has exacerbated the imbalance in employment and income between the South East and the rest of the country, has eroded the number of secure well-paid jobs and has increased our vulnerability to external shocks, such as the financial crisis of 2008.

Various reasons have been put forward for the decline in UK manufacturing, but the experience of other advanced economies makes clear that it was by no means inevitable. Germany, the South Korea and the Netherlands, with labour markets similar to our own, have thriving manufacturing sectors and enjoy very large positive trade balances.

An important factor in the UK was the rise in the value of the pound which resulted from Mrs Thatcher’s disastrous decision to use North Sea oil revenues to cut taxes rather than invest for the future as oil rich Norway has done. More recently, capital inflows resulting from the role of the City of London in the international financial system have also inflated the value of the pound, handicapping British-based manufacturers from selling at home and abroad. And the focus on short-term gain in the investment community has encouraged the owners of innovative manufacturing businesses to sell up and enjoy their riches rather than pursue long-term growth.

 

Investment in Skills and Infrastructure

Investment is crucial for modernisation and growth and the Government plays a key role in creating an environment which promotes it. The UK has failed to keep up with other advanced economies in this respect, coming, according to the OECD, 33rd out of 35 member countries, with investment accounting for 17% of GDP (compared with an overall average of 20%), while the World Bank reported in 2016 that UK figure trailed behind the global average of 24%.

Successive governments have responded by seeking to attract companies from outside the EU whch wish to sell into the Single Market, a policy which has helped turn the UK into the leading location for foreign investment, boosting jobs, growth and the balance of payments. Opposition to Single Market membership by the Conservatives and Labour threatens these benefits and increases the urgency of finding alternative means of addressing the UK’s long-term investment problem.

The Party proposes new powers for the regions to promote investment in projects with growth potential and to improve access to affordable capital. Increased resources are also needed for regional transport, training and recreation, which attract investment, and for the green economy. A large-scale drive to improve literacy and numeracy and promote broader and deeper secondary school learning is needed, focusing on communities and regions that have fallen behind. The failure of British manufacturing to grow as fast as its rivals also reflects cultural factors, including the low uptake of science, mathematics and technology in our educational and training system, which demands a long-term partnership approach informed by a thorough understanding of successful experience from around the world.

Transport

A public transport system which is comprehensive, reliable, affordable and capable of moving people and goods efficiently is crucial for growth, for tackling climate change and for making society more inclusive. Rail privatisation failed to deliver the promises made for it as weaknesses in franchising and inadequate funding have hindered improvements in infrastructure and services. Congestion on our roads also imposes an enormous burden on individuals and society, with traffic data analyst Inrix estimating that drivers wasted an average of 31 hours in 2017 in rush hour hold-ups (costing them an average of £1,168) and that traffic jams will cost the UK economy £300 billion at 2013 prices in the period to 2030.

Public investment in transport and infrastructure should be stepped up, taking advantage of the current low cost of government debt, with priority for extending high capacity broadband to all parts of the country. Mega-projects, such as HS2, are promoted by powerful construction companies but almost invariably devastate the environment and over-run their budgets. Instead, wherever possible, investment should focus on upgrading existing assets, tackling bottlenecks and introducing improvements, such as in-cab railway signalling technology, to make it possible to run more trains on the existing tracks.

Local authorities should be empowered to introduce congestion charging and given the resources to support a major expansion in community-based transport initiatives, to extend rural bus networks and to ensure that fares and routes do not discriminate against people living in peripheral estates, who may otherwise be limited in their choice of employment and handicapped in access to city centre resources.

 

SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS

Partnership-Based Economic Leadership

  • establish a national, multi-stakeholder Consultative Council to explore emerging economic opportunities;
  • create similar structures at the regional level, supported by regional development agencies;
  • open a regional development bank to invest in SME businesses in low income regions and knowledge-based start-ups in elsewhere.

Managing Public Debt

  • maintain debt at a level which preserves the capacity to borrow, while protecting public services through careful management and balanced tax increases;
  • clarify the Treasury’s definition of public debt to facilitate public investment in power generation and social housing;
  • end the use of devices which massage the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement at the expense of future taxpayers and consumers;
  • reform and strengthen the National Office of Statistics to ensure that all current and future public borrowing is fully accounted for.  

Fair and Effective Spend and Revenue

  • increase progressive direct and indirect taxes to fund measures to address inequality and boost investment in education and economic development;
  • raise Corporation Tax from its current low level, while maintaining business taxation broadly in line with our main trading partners and introduce a carbon tax;
  • remove the ceiling on council tax on expensive properties and explore tax systems which better capture the market value of land; 
  • carry out a stringent review of all individual and corporate tax exemptions and allowances to ensure they are fair and cost effective in terms of the revenue foregone; 
  • increase the resources for HMRC, reform the law relating to trusts to prevent them being used to minimise tax and promote international efforts to curtail tax havens;
  • increase fuel tax annually (taking account of the propsed carbon tax) to reflect inflation plus an escalator factor; 
  • reform inheritance tax to limit exemptions and encourage wealth to be spread more widely.

Secure, Well Paid, Productive Work

  • raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage and tackle the escalation of top salaries through higher governance standards;
  • introduce a kite mark for bes practice in equal opportunities and make this a requirement for public sector contracts; 
  • give trade unions enhanced rights to access to organisations which do not pay all staff at least the Living Wage. 

A Robust and Diverse Economy

  • reform company governance to tackle short-termism and ensure boards pursue company sustainability;
  • require public service companies to establish supervisory boards and in all other large companies, effective mechanisms to represent stakeholder interests;  
  • promote exchange rate, investment and training policies which encourage the rebuilding of manufacturing;
  • reverse the decline in private, mutual and public ownership to create a broader based and more diverse business environment;
  • create regional co-operative development agencies, incentivise proprietors to convert their enterprises to employee-owned businesses, and protect the use of the word co-operative as a business name. 

Investing in Skills and Infrastructure

  • give the regions new powers to promote investment and entrepreneurship;
  • improve access to affordable capital and increase spending on regional transport, education and recreation to attract investment;
  • increase resources for education, careers guidance and technical training in communities that have fallen behind;
  • increase public sector funding for investment projects whose time horizon is too long for equity finance;
  • increase investment in transport and broadband infrastructure;
  • expand rail capacity by tackling bottlenecks and promoting in-cab signalling technology;
  • tackle congestion through improved public transport, smart road pricing and congestion charging.