Universal Basic Services: How to Transform the Economy and our Community

A new grassroots Labour Party campaign has launched a draft plan for a future Labour government to radically expand the ‘free at the point of use’ NHS principle to a wide range of services. 

The campaign document sets out ’10 pillars’ of UBS and invokes the spirit of the Beveridge report which led to the modern welfare state. It also suggests the 10 pillars could be enshrined as new legal entitlements in a British Bill of Rights. 

Some of the proposals, for example, those on childcare, tuition fees, and social care, were included in Labour’s 2019 manifesto and the document calls on the party to maintain the controversial commitment to free fibre broadband for all. 

Bold new spending commitments include expanding free bus travel to all ages at a cost of Β£5bn per annum, a new National Food Service estimated at Β£4bn a year and, perhaps most strikingly, a Β£31bn plan to abolish water and energy bills for most households. 

The document is designed as a public consultation and members are encouraged to offer feedback before a final version is published in early 2021 with a view to a motion being presented to party conference next September.

Founder and Co-Chair of the campaign Councillor Nathan Griffiths said:

“Universal Basic Services has the potential to end homelessness, lift millions out of poverty, and put the nation on the path to a prosperous post-Covid recovery. Reverting to business as usual will not cut it. If Labour is serious about transforming the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in our nation, then it must commit to bold and ambitious plans that put people at the heart of policy.”

Fellow Co-Chair Jonny Roberts said:

“We know the immediate challenge people will raise is costs but if anything we’ve been overly cautious and quoted above and beyond the real costs as we haven’t really factored in the dynamic economic effects, in other words, so much of people’s cash is tied up each month with dead weight unproductive costs like energy bills and commuting, allowing households to spend that cash on other parts of the economy will create more jobs, new businesses, and higher VAT returns for HMRC.”

Such policies if implemented by a UK government could have potentially transformative effects for Worcestershire’s economy. It is clear that there is a space opening up for a bold and radical economic plan as a response to coronavirus, in which people’s needs are put first.

The full document will be available here and the campaign are also planning a series of Zoom meetings to outline the document and debate its proposals. 

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