POLICY STATEMENTS

HOMES FOR ALL POLICY


PREAMBLE

The right to a secure, sustainable and affordable home is not only a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for our collective personal well being and wider economic growth. Investing in more affordable home building and home improvements not only contributes to our economic recovery but is also essential in providing housing opportunities for future generations. Providing decent, affordable homes has a long association with improvements to our health and personal well being.

Change can occur if we all make it our collective moral and social responsibility to make it happen.

The Social Justice Party is committed to that change.

The scale to which our national wealth (and indebtedness) is tied up in property, along with our national obsession with home ownership as the only secure route to enduring personal contentment, is highly questionable.

The total outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans is currently in the region of £1,657.6 billion.

The value of outstanding mortgage balances with arrears increased by 9.2% from the previous quarter, to £20.3 billion, and was 50.3% higher than a year earlier. (Source: Financial Conduct Authority data for the 4th quarter 2023).

Not only is housing more expensive in the UK relative to general prices than in any other OECD country, it is also a very strong determinant of overall wealth inequality. It is imperative that we move away from a model where speculative property investment has undermined the quality and security of homes for the majority of people.

The need to offer a radical transformative homes programme cannot be allowed to languish anymore. It is far too important a conversation to be controlled by an establishment elite. It needs to be driven by a network of local community grassroots groupings in collaboration with Local Government acting as the primary catalyst for change.

Publicly owned Council house building must be at the centre of a renewed effort to deliver homes that generate economic growth and delivers what communities need now and into the future.

Homes based on NEED not GREED.

Providing Homes for All

Context
There were just over 67 million people living in the UK in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest estimate. This was a rise of 284,000 in a year and has followed the trend of recent years where the population has been slowly creeping up, though it is currently growing at the slowest rate for two decades.

To meet current and future housing needs we must significantly increase the supply of new homes. Most experts believe that by 2031 we need to build 340,000 new homes per year, whilst over the last decade we have averaged just 130,500 per year.

New housing development is important to the health of the UK economy. Quite apart from the social benefits that accrue from a well housed population, the house building industry contributes £19.2bn a year to the UK economy, supports 600,000 jobs and has a predominantly domestic supply chain.

Whilst it is important to consider supply, the rising cost of housing relative to income is a huge problem. New build supply can have an impact in reducing prices.

The SJP believes the national housing emphasis needs to shift from building homes for personal acquisition to publicly provided, secure and affordable homes for all.

The SJP in collaboration with Local Government seeks to increase the amount of publicly provided new build social housing by 90,000 per year and increase that number incrementally so that ultimately everyone can access an affordable, safe, secure and decent home. This building programme should be undertaken where possible, by local construction firms providing local apprenticeships and jobs in local communities.

Whilst increases in new home building will be necessary it does not need to be the only supply source providing homes fit for the future.

The SJP is committed to assessing the potential for alternative supply solutions from the existing stock of homes as this provides the opportunity to invest in innovative retrofitting, providing local employment and growing the local economy.

ALTERNATIVE HOME SOLUTIONS

Addressing Empty Homes
It is estimated that 1.5million homes are “vacant” in the UK or are not occupied a majority of the time. Over 250,000 homes are left empty in excess of 6 months, an increase of more than 12,556 since 2022 (Source Action on Empty Homes).

The SJP will lobby for local communities in partnership with not-for-profit social housing providers to purchase such property at discounted market rates so that these homes can be reprovisioned for local social housing purposes.

The SJP will also campaign for the introduction of a compulsory empty home tax where owners decline to cooperate.

Utilising Empty Town Centre Retail Space
The amount of empty retail space at both ground level and above diminishes the potential appeal of our town centres as prosperous, safe, vibrant, inclusive community spaces.

Apart from utilising empty space this initiative would help to repopulate and regenerate our diminishing High Streets.

Possible incentives for landlords committed to such reutilisation could include fixed period reductions in business rates or Tax considerations from HMRC.

The SJP alongside Local Government would advocate as part of its Future Homes Policy, for an audit of all town centre commercial properties to identify the landlords and require them to suggest how the empty space could be reutilised as rental accommodation or additional retail business start up space.

Different types of home ownership

Community Led Home Provision

Context
In order to meet future home building needs and empower local people with the personal and resource commitment to develop their community, different models of community engagement, participation, and social inclusion need to be established.

Local communities have become disempowered and marginalised. Too often we see overbearing and complacent bureaucrats overlooking people’s needs.

The SJP will prioritise and repurpose funding from money lenders, credit unions, and social enterprise investors for community led housing projects.

Second Homes/Holiday Lets/Buy to Let/Right to Buy

Context
Since the introduction of the Right to Buy scheme in 1980 which allowed sitting tenants to purchase their council homes with a significant discount, nearly 1 million homes were sold, an 18% reduction in stock. Replacing this stock at current levels of social and affordable house building would take 19 years, and at current levels of social rent delivery it would take 150 years, before even considering the loss of stock through sales under the Right to Buy .Even if rates of building were taken up to 90,000 units a year (the figure often used by housing campaigners as to the need for social rent homes) it would take a decade.

Following the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 the private rented sector had grown by around 1.4 million homes, a 39% increase, which incentivised individuals to become landlords given the potential capital gains and rental yields. Were this growth to be reversed overnight, the proportion of homeowners could increase by 9%, offsetting its recent decline, or the proportion living in the social rented sector could increase by a third (33%).

Buy to Let

Context
Between 2000 and 2007, the number of buy-to-let mortgages rose from 48,400 to 346,000, while their total value rose from £3.9bn to £45.7b.

The SJP will actively promote a focus on creating positive alternative options for sustainable investment, which challenge a culture of property speculation, and incentivise other ways of investing that could lead to a fairer distribution of wealth and stronger economic growth.
The SJP supports the suggestion to increase the current surcharge of 2% on home purchases in the UK if the buyer lacks citizenship or residency. Australia has a non resident excise duty of 15% and Canada 25%.

Right to Buy

Context
At a time of acute housing shortages, where more than one million people are on council housing waiting lists and councils are spending £1.74 billion annually on temporary accommodation, the LGA is calling for major reforms to the Right to Buy (RTB) scheme.  Latest figures show that, for the last financial year, 10,896 homes were sold through RTB and only 3,447 have been replaced, resulting in a net loss of 7,449 social homes in 2022/23. (Source: Local Government Association (LGA) 13 Feb 2024).

The SJP will abolish the right to buy homes in the public sector. There can be no question that many people have invested in rental properties because of the deplorable pensions in the UK and the Social Justice Party is committed to address this issue.

The SJP would seek to extend the Right to Buy to renters and leasehold holders in the private sector. This would enable tenants in privately rented homes to have their rental contribution taken into account should the owner seek to sell the property.

The SJP will restrict the amount private sector money lenders can lend for the purchase of Right to Buy second homes in the private sector by imposing a surcharge on such loans.

Second Homes

We believe an increase in all local charges on existing second homes is necessary as well as imposing a transaction loan tax on money lenders offering loans to second home owners.
The SJP will require all second home property owners to provide property details to Councils so that Councils can produce annual audits to their local communities for public examination.

Holiday Homes

The SJP believes that local communities in cooperation with Local Government should require all holiday lets to be in a local licensing scheme and have the ultimate decision to impose limits in areas affected by poor housing or affordability issues.

The Rental Sector

Affordability

Many homes that meet the government’s definition of Affordable Housing (AH) are often not affordable to people on low incomes. However, publicly provided social housing for social renting where rents are pegged to local incomes makes social renting the most affordable type of housing available.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation JRF July 2022 (Making a House A Home) found that the proportion of social housing in England has fallen from 31% in 1980 to 17% in 2020, thus pushing lower-income households into relying on the private rented sector. In turn this has caused financial stress for low-income renters. Research from JRF finds that more than half (55%) of low-income private renters are paying rents they cannot afford, with some groups particularly hard hit. Single adults, families with children, and people from BAME groups face particularly high rates of rent that is unaffordable. Over half of all renters on low-incomes who face unaffordable rents would be lifted from this if they were to be offered homes at social rent levels (Rogaly et al, 2021).

The SJP will promote a Joseph Rowntree proposal of creating a clearer definition of affordable housing that keeps rent below one third of local household income. This will ensure that local homes are affordable for people that need it most.

Private Sector

Context
Everyone has the right to a secure and decent home. For England’s 11 million private renters, this basic right is out of reach. The private rented sector has doubled in size since 2000 and is now the second most common tenure in the UK. Despite this, no significant reform of tenure law in England has taken place since the 1980s, and 11 million private renters live in a sector that is not currently fit for purpose. Relative to other tenures, private renters spend more of their income on housing, report lower satisfaction, and are more likely to live in homes that are unsafe.

Private Home Renter’s Reform

The SJP supports:

  • Abolishing Section 21 No Fault Evictions.
  • Fixing the process for rent increases and appeals against above-market rents by establishing local tenant-led panels to agree any rent increases.
  • Supporting tenants when forced to move by requiring landlords to pay tenants’ relocation costs.
  • Ending automatic evictions for rent arrears.
  • Allowing renters to make a house their own. Renters should be free to make minor changes and improvements to their property, to ensure their house feels like a home. The Government’s model tenancy agreement should be made mandatory to enable more renters to own pets.
  • In order to ensure private renting tenures are fit for purpose, the SJP would support the establishment of a time limited tenants led commission to review all aspects of private tenure. Recommendations from the review to be legally enforceable.

Quality and condition of privately rented homes

Context
One way of measuring the quality of housing is through the Decent Homes Standard, a tool used to measure the improving standards of socially rented homes. A Decent Homes Standard exists for social tenants. The same needs to apply to people paying much higher rents in the Private Rented Sector.

The SJP will regulate in the private sector ensuring a smaller, higher-quality and better managed private rented sector, which provides flexibility to people that choose it and with appropriate financial support for people that need it.

Social Housing

Context
In 1979-80, gross government investment in social housing was around £14.5 billion in 2019-20 prices. In the last two decades the average yearly spend has been around £6.8 billion, falling to £5.9 billion in the ten years from 2010-11 to 2019-20, a 52-59% decrease.

The SJP will encourage the inclusion of other not for profit providers including local community housing groups to be part of an expanded public sector housing provision.

The SJP will seek evidence from all public sector home providers that a comprehensive charter of individual tenant’s rights is written into their constitution. The charter will emphasise tenant’s collective rights to participate as equal partners on housing matters in their communities.

Shortfalls between rent and rent assistance put both renters and local authorities under extreme pressure. Young people and large families have been particularly impacted by the restrictions to Local Housing Allowance, and the benefit cap. The cumulative impact of the welfare reforms combined with economic trends and higher housing costs in the private rented sector have increased poverty among working families.

The SJP will campaign for a root and branch review of the Housing benefit and Universal Credit scheme to ensure it remains fit for housing purposes and ensures that public money is targeted at those most in need, not subsidising private landlords rental investment portfolios.

The SJP would devolve central funding to Local Government to ensure that adequate funding is available to the 2.3 million households in the poorest income groups not receiving support through the benefits system, and missing out on current targeted support for home insulation.

Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice

Context
Security of employment, stability of personal circumstances, suitability and affordability of housing tenure are factors of concern for us all. If any one of those factors change let alone all of them the consequences can have devastating effects.

Some people are more at risk of being pushed into homelessness than others. People in low paid jobs, living in poverty and poor quality or insecure housing are more likely to experience homelessness.

For the last five years “core” homelessness has risen each year in England. Homelessness reached a peak in 2019, when numbers of homeless households rose from 207,600 to over 2019,00o at the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 research by Heriot Watt University estimates 227,000 were experiencing core homelessness. If nothing changes it is anticipated that up to 300,000 households could be considered homeless.

It is estimated that the cost of rough sleeping for 12 months is £20,128 per person compared with a cost of successful intervention of £1,426. (Source Crisis :At what cost)

The SJP would require Local Government, and voluntary agencies to have time limited emergency support plans in their local communities to cover unexpected lifestyle changes.

The SJP working in partnership with Local Government, Voluntary groups, Police, Probation and community tenants would seek to implement proactive strategies to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour.

The SJP would allocate sufficient funding to Local Government to meet their local communities emergency support plans.

The SJP would undertake an immediate review of the welfare benefit system to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and meets the increases in the cost of living and rising rents crisis.

The SJP would require each Local Authority to produce an annual plan that will coordinate services from the NHS, Social Care, and Voluntary Agencies to provide integrated support to those requiring additional support by being proactive in preventing the risk of long term homelessness.

The SJP would outlaw any form of arbitrary rent or home buying discrimination aimed at individuals who are homeless.

The SJP would work proactively with Social Housing, Private renters to develop a range of tenancy incentivisation contracts which reward stable tenancy tenures.

REDISTRIBUTING WEALTH POLICY


PREAMBLE

Creating a UK Economy That Works for Everyone

The aim of the Social Justice Party is exactly that – Social Justice. Social justice for those who work and strive to attain a decent standard of living. Social Justice for those who would strive, but are, through no fault of their own, not able to. That means everyone who works and contributes and those who cannot. It means the business person, the trades person, the carer, the teacher, the unpaid child minder…… Everyone.

The UK economy has the capacity to provide everyone with food, housing, health, job security and a decent education for all. However for generations the UK economy has been engineered to providing a king’s ransom for the few, and a life of struggle for the masses. Those days and ways have led our country into chaos. Foodbanks, cold and damp housing, collapsing transport infrastructure, crumbling schools and a health and social care sector that is struggling to exist.

The Social Justice Party is championing a new economic approach. It is targeted, focused on value and not profit. It integrates true democratic participation and is based on long term strategic planning. An integrated plan that can deliver wealth across all strata of UK society. A plan that will deliver good wages and real workplace and community democracy. A plan to reverse decades of UK industrial, environmental and social decline. A plan to deliver true Social Justice.

Changing Our Thinking and Approach to the Economy

All mainstream politicians repeat the mantra that government spending on public services and investment is based on taxation. This is a myth. It simply isn’t true. Another myth used by those same politicians involves “borrowing” and “debt”. These terms are frequently used when describing the UK economy and comparing it to a household budget. For a country like the UK that has the ability to print its own money, this language is farcical. However, it has suited both Tory and Labour politicians to peddle these taxation and borrowing myths because they have been and still are wedded to the neo-liberal economic system that has caused so much damage to the fabric of our country by destroying and hollowing out UK industry, fracturing our communities and creating immense wealth inequality.

The Social Justice Party recognises that sensible but radical investment is absolutely vital to escaping the damaging political choice of austerity. Using the scare tactics of ‘borrowing means ‘debt’, to simply open up the doors for private ownership, has crippled our country’s finances. A country that has the power to produce its own currency, as the UK has, should not fear producing the capital for investment, directly from the treasury. Taxation is a tool for guarding against inflation and helping with the vital funding we need, but taxation alone cannot be seen as the only method for investment.

The Social Justice Party has two simple economic priorities –

  • Wealth Redistribution
  • Long Term UK investment

The policies outlined here are based upon these two principles and they are intended to reverse decades of industrial and social decline that was kick started by Margaret Thatcher, promoted by New Labour and which recent Tory austerity politics has made even worse. As an Eco-Socialist group, the Social Justice Party is committed to regenerative and distributive economics, aiming for a prosperous society that doesn’t disrupt the environmental limits of the planet.

Taxation Reform: Creating Fairness

The Social Justice Party will work to introduce a taxation system that is fair and efficient.

Taxation for Demand Management: Rather than focusing solely on revenue generation, taxation should be primarily utilised for managing demand. Tax rates should be adjusted dynamically to regulate spending and curb inflationary pressures when the economy approaches full capacity. This flexible approach enhances resilience to economic fluctuations and prioritises the maintenance of price stability while allowing for sustainable economic growth.

Progressive Taxation and Wealth Redistribution: Implementing more progressive tax policies, particularly targeting high-income individuals and corporations, would reduce income inequality. This could involve higher marginal tax rates for top earners, along with closing loopholes and implementing measures to prevent tax evasion and avoidance. The introduction of taxation on property and land would also reduce wealth inequality and provide funding for social programs and infrastructure projects, further promoting economic equity and stability.

Environmental Taxation and Incentives: Recognising the importance of addressing environmental challenges, the tax system should be reformed to incorporate environmental objectives. This would include imposing taxes on carbon emissions, pollution, and other environmentally harmful activities, while providing incentives for renewable energy investments and sustainable practices. Revenue from environmental taxes should be earmarked for green initiatives and transitioning to a more sustainable economy.

Controlling Speculative Behaviour: Taxation should be used to discourage speculative activities that may contribute to financial instability. Taxes on certain financial transactions or capital gains is a deterrent to excessive speculation and promotes more productive investment in the real economy.

Digitalisation and Efficiency Improvements: Leveraging digital technologies and improving tax administration efficiency would enhance the effectiveness of the tax system. Streamlining processes, reducing compliance costs, and leveraging data analytics could improve revenue collection while minimising administrative burdens on taxpayers.

A National Economy That Works for Everyone

The engine room of the economy is production and the freedom to set up and run your own small enterprise or cooperative endeavour means that workplace democracy becomes a reality.

The Social Justice Party will work to set up a national funding agency to support start-ups like these. The reward will be repaid over and over again by the increased rate of production generated by people working for themselves. Such investment by the government will be repaid over decades by the increased production and indeed the taxation generated by liberating people to be able to generate their own means of earning a living.

The Social Justice Party is committed to achieving these changes by championing redistributive wealth policies and long term investment into the UKs infrastructure. This will include collective ownership of key industries and resources that will empower workers and will ensure the provision of essential goods and services to everyone.

Progressive Taxation and Wealth Redistribution: The Social Justice Party supports progressive taxation policies to ensure that the burden of taxation falls more equitably on the wealthy and on large corporations. This revenue would then be used to fund social welfare programs, public services, and infrastructure projects aimed at benefiting all citizens, particularly those who are marginalised or economically disadvantaged. Wealth redistribution measures, such as inheritance taxation and wealth taxation linked to a universal basic income, would further reduce inequality and poverty.

Worker Empowerment: By giving workers a greater say in decision-making processes and a share in the profits of their labour, there is a more equitable distribution of wealth and power within the economy. The Social Justice Party is therefore committed to pursuing policies that strengthen unions, establish worker-owned cooperatives, and guarantee fair wages and working conditions.

Investment in Public Services & Utilities: Guaranteeing access to the basic necessities of life to every citizen, will enhance social cohesion and protect basic human rights. The Social Justice Party therefore views housing, energy, transportation, education, health and social care as being universal rights rather than commodities that are used to generate profit. The SJP prioritises the collective good over excessive private profit and supports structural changes and significant investment in order to deliver these services through publicly owned institutions.

Public Ownership of Key Industries: Essential sectors such as healthcare, education, energy, water, housing and transportation should be brought under public ownership. This ensures that profit motives do not compromise the quality and accessibility of these services and that taxpayer money does not get diverted into the pockets of private investors. Nationalisation also fosters public accountability and democratic control, thereby prioritising the needs of citizens over corporate interests.

Keeping Key UK Business UK Owned: The Social Justice Party is committed to supporting UK businesses with significant long term investment strategies, but in return expects the profits of those businesses to benefit the whole country and not be diverted to offshore tax havens. The SJP will therefore seek to outlaw the majority shareholding by foreign businesses of any UK company that is deemed to be a key component of the UK economy, or which has or is currently receiving UK taxpayer investment.

Democratic Economic Planning: The Social Justice Party is committed to decentralising economic decision-making and prioritising input from workers, consumers, and communities. Such a democratic planning process would ensure that economic policies align with the needs and aspirations of the population, rather than serving the interests of a privileged few. The SJP will champion the introduction of mechanisms such as peoples assemblies, worker councils and participatory budgeting, in order to promote economic democracy and collective self-determination.

By embracing these principles and policies and moving beyond the limitations of market driven capitalism, the SJP will strive to create an economy that will foster greater social justice, economic stability, and human well-being for all UK citizens.

Infrastructure Investment

Most of the UK’s key infrastructure is old, patched up and not fit for life in the 21st century. A nation’s infrastructure directly impacts on individual and collective wellbeing, so the SJP recognises the vital importance of prioritising investment into transport, energy and communication systems. Investment in sustainable clean energy is a priority for the Social Justice Party. Energy is a vital service that is a necessity and not a choice. The current system of energy production and distribution that is owned by private corporations for profit has failed and must be changed.

The Social Justice Party unequivocally views energy production and distribution as being not-for-profit operations. Therefore, we propose that a new clean energy industry will be under the control of a publicly owned National Energy Company who will oversee all contractual arrangements.

Several key interrelated areas need decades of significant upgrades and investment, including:

Transportation: The UK’s transportation infrastructure, particularly its road and rail networks, requires substantial improvement. Investment in upgrading and expanding rail networks, reducing congestion by increased rail freight, and increasing connectivity between regions is urgently required.

Energy: The UK needs to accelerate its renewable energy deployment, modernise the power grid to accommodate renewable energy integration, and invest in energy storage technologies.

Digital Communication: Closing the digital divide by ensuring universal free access to high-speed broadband and 5G networks, particularly in rural areas.

Water and Sanitation: Ageing infrastructure should be replaced to reduce water leakage, provide resilience to extreme weather events, and ensure high water quality and availability. Upgrading wastewater treatment facilities are vital to the protection of the environment and for ensuring good public health.

Recognising Education in Economic Terms

A vital part of what will make the UK both prosperous and optimistic is an educated and critically informed population. This is a crucial factor in building a strong and resilient national economy.

Government investment in education is not just advantageous for our economy, it is also a major factor in the promotion of individual well-being. A good education is liberating to the individual, promotes self-confidence and has immense economic benefits.

Attaching profit margins to the provision of education is a drag anchor on achievement and is a burden that teaching professionals don’t need. The Social Justice Party will work to remove all vestiges of privatisation from the national education system, from the nursery through to the university. The Social Justice Party believes that investment in education over decades will be fully repaid in terms of personal well being and in the health and resilience of the national economy.

Conclusion

The strategic and planned investment in industry, infrastructure and public services coupled with wealth redistribution that the Social Justice Party proposes, will produce a more equitable society. Alleviating poverty and promoting public ownership of key industries, while supporting self and cooperative employment, will be the engine that powers a dynamic UK economy for the 21st century.

This can only happen if the UK moves away from the outdated and failed model of neoliberal capitalism that has blighted our communities and industry for over 50 years.

The Social Justice Party will always base its economic policies on a model that puts people first. An economics that is not driven by greed for profit and that pushes the ecological limits of the Earth to the point of destruction. Social Justice Party economics is based on hope, belief and optimism.

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP POLICY


PREAMBLE

Consistent with the Social Justice Party Objective, public ownership of key industries is a major aim of our overall economic strategy.

It is founded in the principle that certain aspects of our lives should not be owned for the purpose of private profit but rather should be run in the interests of the entire population to ensure that every person has full access to all the services required to make modern life comfortable and further that all those services should be affordable.

If elected to parliament, every Social Justice Party member will unceasingly work toward the above objective.

The SJP constitution sets out a number of areas and industries that would be subject to nationalisation but would target with immediacy the following –

Energy (gas, electricity in all forms), Water, Mail and Public Transport.

Additionally, the SJP will actively work to put the NHS back into full public ownership.

THE CASE FOR PUBLIC OWNERSHIP

The case for public ownership can essentially be described as part of the fundamental argument that we should live in a civilised community that respects all of the people within that community. If indeed public ownership with the aim of supporting a fair and equitable society is one of the characteristics of being civilised then privatisation is its exact opposite.

The notion that people and corporations who are already exceedingly wealthy, should basically be gifted things which naturally belong to the entire population is immoral.

How is it for example that water that falls from the sky in the form of rain and is as essential to life as the air we breathe, can be commercialised for personal gain? Indeed there can be no better example of the obscenity of privatisation than the appalling record of water companies in the UK. Not only have they profited to the tune of billions of pounds from an industry paid for by taxes but they have utterly failed to maintain the infrastructure necessary to ensure a properly functioning system, shamelessly polluting our waterways with their neglect. ‘While some swim in obscene profits, the rest of us swim in sewage!’

As if any further evidence of the failure of privatisation were required, we need only look as far as our trains that charge scandalously high fares for a woefully inadequate service making a complete mockery of the term ‘public transport’.

It is worth however, looking a little more closely at energy prices and distribution.

GAS AND ELECTRICITY

Since the Russia/Ukraine conflict started, the UK Government has paid nearly £40 billion in subsidies to households and businesses to help cope with rising prices that has seen a huge increase in the dilemma of the so-called ‘heat or eat’ choice for millions of poorer and older people.

At the same time the Government was making these payments, BP recorded it’s second highest annual profit in a decade with £27.2 billion in 2022. For SHELL it was £30.8 billion. The Treasury has estimated that UK Gas producers and electricity generators could make £170 billion in excess profits from the current energy ‘crisis’ over the next two years. You would be forgiven for asking, ‘For whom is it a crisis’?

Along with these profits and what can fairly be described as subsidies to allow the energy companies to increase their prices, the Government gave £20 billion more to the polluting fossil fuel industry than to renewables, one fifth of which was to support extraction and mining. Why is that important?

It’s important because it gives a perfect example of what happens when profit becomes the primary motive not only of the corporations themselves but of the Government that supports them. Without any regard for the environment, our international obligations or of the cheaper energy prices that would be available to consumers, the exploitation continues unabated precisely because those industries are NOT in public ownership.

It is worth asking why the cost of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are rising at all? The reason is that the Government uses the so-called ‘marginal cost’ principle which means that the most expensive energy (fossil) is used to set the price of ALL types of energy including renewables. It is clearly nonsense and effectively price fixing to help the big fossil fuel companies like SHELL and BP.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

The advantages of Public Ownership are that it allows for better coordination of industry, guaranteeing the production of essential services such as water, energy and transport.

Surpluses can be handed straight back to the treasury to allow public services or government social programs to be subsidised.

Due to overall Government ownership spanning different industries, Government is better placed to not only regulate the economy but engage in macro planning.

A nationalised industry benefits from internal economies of scale allowing greater purchasing power.

One disadvantage that opponents of public ownership often cite is the lack of a profit motive leading to loss of efficiency. We say that is nonsense because all we have seen from privatisation is a massive profit motive with money going into the pockets of super rich corporations accompanied by massive inefficiency, rising consumer costs and poor service. The other thing these people say is that public ownership leads to unmotivated employees and lazy management.

Again, we say this is nonsense. What can possibly demotivate an employee more than being part of an overworked, understaffed workforce that is at the same time underpaid with poor conditions?

The other thing that is worth saying is that it should be acknowledged that one of the failings of previous nationalisations was the total focus on the purchase and control of the industries in question. Little thought was given to the issue of the democratisation and socialisation of the workplace. The Social Justice Party is committed to these principles. Replacing one set of bureaucratic managers with another will on the one hand deal with the question of ownership and investment but fail to improve efficiency and service levels.

We believe that an engaged, well paid, democratised workforce is best placed to transform British industry in the interests of all. It is time for us to take back what should always have been ours. That starts with PUBLIC OWNERSHIP.

HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY


PREAMBLE

Human Rights must apply to all – at home and abroad.

We must vigorously defend our own civil liberties which are daily under attack via cynical manipulation of a government that seeks to impose regulations without parliament.

We must also honour our obligations to International Law and should start by immediately refusing to supply arms and political cover to Israel while it continues its slaughter of the people of Gaza.
What follows is a short list of a few things the Social Justice Party believes should be our immediate priorities.

The 16 rights in the Human Rights Act 1998 must be upheld, protected and enhanced where necessary.

Respect for all. Everyone in civilised society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, age or any other identifying factor has a right to expect to be treated with equality before the law and with respect for their individual civil liberties.

Participation in the European Court of Human Rights must continue in order to ensure that government, parliament, and the courts are accountable, and as a last resort for justice.

The Rwanda Bill, which has cost over £500 million so far, is in breach of International Law and Universal Human Rights and must be scrapped. The Government has employed a deliberate strategy of removing legal access for refugees in order to create a narrative of ‘illegal immigrants’. This in turn is then used to excuse their economic strategy of cuts to essential services. It is a cynical and devious device to distract us from identifying the real enemy – neo-liberal, austerity driven economics to benefit the already super wealthy.

The right to ‘freedom of assembly and association’ is a core human right and recent anti-protest legislation must be repealed. The Police now having the power to shut down protests it deems as ‘causing more than a minor disturbance’ is a prime example.

EDUCATION POLICY


PREAMBLE

A vital part of making Britain both prosperous and optimistic, is an educated population. This is an important factor in building a strong and vibrant new economy.

Recognising Education in Economic Terms

How Government invests in education is not just important for our economy, it is also a major factor in the promotion of well-being for the individual. A good education is liberating to the person. With that comes self-confidence, which in turn will have an impact in not only economic terms, but in improvements to individual health in general.

The initial investment should be taken over a ten-year period. In the ever-advancing world of science and technology, falling behind in educational standards is a complete non-starter. Attaching profit margins to teaching delivery is a drag anchor on achievement and a burden that education does not need. The absolute positive is that investment in education over a decade begins to fully pay for itself, as people set about the tasks the country needs to attain in research and development, engineering, health and education.

Public versus Private Education

Our education system should promote social equality. Instead, it is renewed by the wealthy to assist their children in ways that reinforce class distinction with those from private schools continuing to dominate the country’s top professions. Such persistent inequality cannot be ignored. The SJP therefore supports private school fees being subject to VAT with the resultant tax revenue being used to raise standards in State schools.

Curriculum

A thorough review of the standard curriculum needs undertaking. Education should be as much – if not more – about personal growth, individual interest, and cultural understanding than simply creating young adults as units of economic currency.

WORK & INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS POLICY


PREAMBLE

This section of our manifesto deals with the question of our relationship to work and can be briefly summarised in three sections – Dignity at work and our rights at work, The question of technology and the effect it has on work opportunities and finally the issue of Reliance on work as the vehicle for achieving economic security and personal fulfilment.

DIGNITY AT WORK AND OUR RIGHTS AT WORK

It is the view of the Social Justice Party that dignity at work is dependent on a number of issues but in almost all circumstances cannot be achieved without people having full rights to trade union representation.

It is a well-established fact that the collective power that comes from being in a union is virtually the only thing that begins to address the imbalance of power that exists between an employer – the boss – and an individual worker. Therefore, the constant erosion of workers’ rights to organise within a union is clearly an attempt – and a very successful one at that – to reduce a worker to the role of a person with no control over their working life. No real say over how much we’re paid, what hours we work or any other critical issues such as workplace safety.

It follows then that we advocate for the immediate and total reversal of all anti-union legislation and promote the idea of greater worker control.

TECHNOLOGY

The introduction of technology into the workplace and the field of production generally, has often been seen by workers, and frequently their representatives too, as the enemy of workers and the cause of limited employment opportunities leading to unemployment and therefore economic hardship for the workers affected and their families.

This is not a surprising reaction as it reflects how most people view technology in the workplace – as being owned by the boss and therefore to be used at the boss’s discretion.

There is another way to look at it.

On the question of limiting employment opportunities – There have been a number of studies done which show productivity in the industrialised world has increased up to tenfold or more (depending on the various forms of measurement used) but in any case it has increased enormously with the aid of technology since workers first won the 40 hour week. It’s one of the reasons we see growing and obscene levels of wealth for the owners of capital and no commensurate growth in the share going to workers.

It is our contention that opposition to technology based on losing jobs ignores two very important things. Firstly, modern technology has indeed abolished jobs and many of those jobs have been amongst the dirtiest, most dangerous and mind numbingly boring jobs that could ever be devised. And they have almost always been jobs in the service of exploitative employers living off the labours of an impoverished workforce.

‘Well at least it’s a living’, you may say, and of course you’d be right, but consider this. No boss or company employs the use of new technology if it isn’t going to save money for that company.

This is where the second consideration comes in. We would argue, based on what we know technology has achieved, that the problem therefore is not the technology but who controls it. An empowered trade union with the right to negotiate and use the power of its members would obviously insist on taking advantage of the improved productivity arising from continuing innovations in productive technology – let alone the huge increases in productivity we’ve witnessed over the last several decades – by insisting on A SHORTER WORKING WEEK.

As radical as this might sound, the fact is that a reduction from five to four days per week is becoming increasingly common across the world as even employers are prepared to embrace the shorter working week. Why should the British workforce be left behind.

THE NATURE OF WORK

There is no question that most of us are well indoctrinated in the philosophy that suggests that work, in itself, is necessary for human well-being. In some respects, this is true, in that nearly everybody feels the need to be useful and to be validated by the things we do.

This a concept however that has been cynically abused in order to convince people that working in the service of, not ourselves or our families or our communities, but in the service of an employer who requires our labour, is the real purpose in life.

Well, it does have a purpose but for many people it simply lacks meaning and our short time on this planet requires us to make the most of life and there is a movement that has gained momentum over the last couple of decades and one that is overdue in our view, and that is the policy of Universal Basic Income.

It is a topic which has been the subject of hundreds of studies and millions of words which we will spare you from here but will try and explain briefly.

Universal Basic Income pays every member of the community a basic payment with or without work. That statement on its own would be enough for many people to dismiss it out of hand as utopian nonsense that would condemn our economy and perhaps civilisation as we know it, to complete ruin. Certainly, that’s the view of neo-liberal capitalists.

The truth, however, is that everywhere it has been trialled, it has had the opposite effect. Precisely because of its liberating effect and its ability to allow people to reclaim the nature of work it has also unlocked innovation and enterprise, creating a vibrant economy that WORKS FOR PEOPLE.

Universal Basic Income also has an important social justice aspect to it as it immediately liberates poor people from poverty and importantly engages a large section of our humanity who are often still marginalised – women.

What would it cost?

A study done by Widerquist & Arndt suggests that a ‘poverty level’ payment of £7,706 per annum to every adult in the UK and a payment of £3,583 per annum to every child would cost £67 billion or 3.4% of GDP.

It would add only 8.7% to the UK’s total government spending and would replace ALL benefit payments, not only being a saving but removing the stigma of benefits. Importantly, it would reduce poverty from 16% to 4% and all but eliminate it entirely for the elderly and children.

As said previously, this is not a new or particularly radical idea as it is being trialled in many places, but we are prepared to say that any British Government should be compelled to at least engage in a proper independent study of a system we believe has the potential to open up a whole new world of possibility by a simple eradication of poverty on the one hand and a significant readjustment of the balance of power between workers and bosses, on the other.

DEFENCE POLICY


PREAMBLE

The Social Justice Party believes that self-defence is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of any Government. Indeed, we accept that for many, it will be considered the primary responsibility.

What follows is a description of the steps we feel need to be taken in order to meet that responsibility in accordance with our party objective which states that the issue of public ownership and control should be extended to any areas of the economy related to National Security.

The meaning of security

It will be clear to most people that a general understanding of this term is basically ‘self-defence’ and it is reasonable to ask how that objective is best achieved. Unlike the two major parties -Conservative and Labour – we don’t believe it can be achieved through measures which actually decrease our security, both at home and abroad via unnecessary conflict.

The notion that endless conflicts, creating enemies where they would not otherwise exist, by dancing to the tune of corporate interests seeking to expand their markets and influence with no aim other than their own personal enrichment, is somehow of benefit to our population is ridiculous. The pursuit of profit by both the corporate interests concerned – more often than not energy companies – and by arms manufacturers, is a pursuit totally devoid of morality and conducted without a shred of concern for our genuine national interest.

With increasing international tension, the SJP is committed to taking all necessary measures to protect the security of our citizens and country. We have put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of our international relations policy and are committed to working through the United Nations in ending support for unilateral aggression which has exacerbated the global refugee crisis.

Overdue Reforms

How do we democratise National Security? Before answering that question it is probably worth noting that for some people (even those otherwise committed to the principle of democratizing national decision making in all other respects), democratising National Security is not such a good idea.

The capitalist establishment have, over a very long time, pretty successfully convinced people that security and defence is such a complicated issue that it is beyond the understanding of most of us and best left to them. The problem with giving almost complete control to the ‘leaders’ is that in so doing, virtually anything can be viewed as a matter of national security.

The international adventures that recent Governments, Conservative and Labour, have led us in to have had precisely nothing to do with our self-defence – the responsibility we all agree is fundamental to the role of Government – and everything to do with personal enrichment with no thought to the welfare of our armed service personnel. We believe it is essential to support not only currently serving personnel, but those who have served. The shockingly high rate of former members of the armed services enduring homelessness is a national disgrace and we will advocate for much greater support in the area of veterans’ services.

There needs to be a fundamental rethink of the concept of security and how it relates to the broader question of resource allocation. A shift away from emphasising a purely military based security towards a more sustainable model that prioritises the security of people over States and thereby addressing the underlying cause of conflict and insecurity. Nothing illustrates the urgent need for this reanalysis than the devastating threat of the current climate crisis.

The ever-increasing cost and proliferation of nuclear weapons surely raises the question of whether a so-called nuclear deterrence provides real security and whether it is a sound budgetary expense when weighed against domestic and international projects to enhance economic wellbeing and stability.

The SOCIAL JUSTICE PARTY believes that not only the demonstrably illegal activities that our own military and industrial complex engages in, but the persistent threat to world peace demands that things like arms manufacture must be in control of Government and subject to genuinely democratic decision making. Our own security demands nothing less.

Budget

In our manifesto statement, we have made clear that virtually no policy issue stands alone and competent Government relies on a sense of mission that guides each policy decision within the framework of that mission. Therefore, when it comes to the question of how much is reasonable to be spent on defence as guided by the principles of national security, there are at least two considerations.

Firstly, what is required to defend the country and secondly, having met that fundamental requirement, what is it reasonable to spend when weighed up against health, education, environmental protection and other domestic issues such as energy production and housing?

Defence spending should NEVER be about the financial interests of arms manufacturers and should ALWAYS be about genuine national security.

In support of a more progressive sustainable defence agenda the SJP supports the recently ratified U.N treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons which seeks to ban States from developing, testing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also makes it illegal to assist or encourage anyone to engage in these activities.

International Considerations

Key amongst these are our obligations. Ignoring International law is simply not acceptable and our intervention in Iraq under the leadership of the Blair Government is a perfect example of Britain and its armed forces being dragged into an illegal war.

The continuing sale of arms to Israel is a contemporary example of the British Government – and Opposition – completely ignoring Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, not to mention undemocratically ignoring the wishes of the overwhelming majority of our own citizens!

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), formed after World War II, as a defensive bulwark has become a force of expansion which potentially threatens world peace, no less than Putin’s Russia can do so with its invasion of Ukraine. In line with our International relations policy, the SJP will engage with global partners to promote dialogue, respect and mutual commitment to the pursuit of international peace and justice.

As you will see from our International Affairs policy, we believe a responsible British Government, acting in the interests of OUR CITIZENS would find the courage to strike out on a course of our own. One which (ironically as promised by Brexit), gives us a genuine independence. It will honour our obligations and forge a path of peace and justice. That is the path of genuine prosperity AND security.

HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE POLICY


PREAMBLE

The Social Justice Party is committed to creating an integrated National Health and Social Care Service that is publicly owned and free at the point of use.

We believe that every pound that goes towards profit is a pound less to spend on patient care. Studies* have shown that privatisation of NHS services corresponds with a decline in quality and significantly increased rates of death from treatable causes.

Every government since Thatcher was elected in 1979 has introduced measures that have slowly increased the opportunity for the private sector to make money from our NHS. We now have an expensive and bureaucratic ‘internal market’ within our NHS that has replaced Bevan’s vision of democratically elected health boards planning care to meet health needs.

We believe it is essential to abolish the internal market and reverse the damaging privatisation of health and social care in order to develop high quality services that are run for people – not for profit.

Services will be paid for from fair progressive taxation.

CHANGE REQUIRED

We will work with health and social care professionals, health and social care trade unions and local people to ensure quality evidence based healthcare is delivered equitably across the UK. We will ensure resources are targeted to meet clinical need, deliver high quality care and efficiently deal with the problem of health inequalities.

We would reinstate the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s legal duty to provide healthcare to all residents of the UK.

Optimum Staffing Levels

We aim to utilise the expertise of health & social care professionals, health and social care trade unions and the experiences of patients to define optimum staffing levels for all frontline services.

This important work will then be detailed and made mandatory via legislation.

People that undertake training to become a member of the National Health and Social Care Team should receive a student salary that is commensurate with their level of training. Pay and conditions for such students would be set by a new Health and Social Care Staff Training, Support and Retention Body.

In return all staff who complete a National Health & Social Care training programme will be expected to work within the NHS or Social Care for a minimum of five years.

Public Health

Prevention is preferable to cure. We would invest in an ongoing programme of nationwide community health needs assessments to identify the priority health needs of local populations. On this basis, to support communities evidence-based measures will be introduced that are designed to help prevent illness and maintain optimum physical and mental health for people of all ages.

Health needs assessments will inform policy and service development in other key areas that have an impact on health – including housing, food standards, pollution, and other environmental factors.

We would ensure data about people that access health and social care services is protected and only used to enable better diagnosis of conditions, improving services and treatments. We will ensure personal data is not shared with profit-making companies.

Social Care

Once established the new National Health and Social Care service will offer every person that requires support a holistic person-centred assessment to determine their needs. If support is required in a person’s home the care package will be evidence based and visiting staff will be allocated enough time to deliver care safely and with dignity.

If a person is no longer able to live independently and requires some form of appropriate supported accommodation it should be provided free of charge in a high quality ‘not for profit’ residence.

We acknowledge the enormous contribution that unpaid full-time carers make with supporting relatives and loved ones. We would increase the Carers Allowance to a rate to be set by the new Health and Social Care Staff Training, Support and Retention Body.

All hospices will be taken into public ownership and adequately funded. If end of life care is required, people will be given the option of supported home care or in-patient care.

We believe in developing and introducing a dignified funeral service that would be provided free of charge to people that choose to register with this new service before they die.

Mental Health

All people living with mental health challenges deserve to access timely evidence-based support. This can be achieved by investing in quality support services that allow people to feel empowered and make decisions about possible treatment options in collaboration with health professionals.

Children’s Services

The new National Health and Social Care Service will provide an evidence based Healthy Child Programme ensuring every child receives personalised support based on an individual ongoing assessment that quickly identifies any additional and/or complex needs.

Integrated Community Child Health Teams will offer support and services to promote healthy pregnancies and support parents, babies, children, and young people.

Children and young people have the right to be protected from abuse and exploitation and to have their health and welfare safeguarded. Safeguarding children will be a key role of the Integrated Community Child Health Teams.

Dentists, Opticians and Audiology

As part of our commitment to develop a publicly owned National Health and Social Care Service the timely provision of free dental care, audiology and optometry will be a priority. The provision of these services to everyone that needs them should also be at the forefront of a modern, national profit-free’ health and social care service.

Our Priority

The development of a publicly owned integrated National Health and Social Care Service that is free at the point of use will support all people at their time of need – regardless of their ability to pay. It will be paid for by collective contributions from everyone and in turn benefit everyone.

Reference

Goodie B and Reeves A (2024) ‘The effect of health-care privatisation on the quality of care’ The Lancet, Vol 9, issue 3

ENVIRONMENT POLICY


PREAMBLE

The Social Justice Party believes there is no way of averting the worst effects of global climate and ecological breakdown without radical system change.

That is not just our opinion, but the conclusion of leading climate and social scientists, such as Kevin Anderson (a consultant on the Climate and Nature Bill 2024) and economic anthropologist and author Jason Hickel.

In a recent interview (1), Professor Anderson repeated his view that “there are no non-radical futures” – either we make rapid and profound changes in the way society is organised or we lock in massive and catastrophic breakdown of our climate and the natural world.

Climate chaos has already made this winter the wettest in 130 years in the UK (2), while heatwaves, floods, fires and other ‘natural disasters’ have cost untold lives and livelihoods around the world. The frequency and severity of such events will only increase as we crash past the 1.5C threshold, bringing catastrophic tipping points ever closer.

WHO PAYS?

In the UK there is a massive disparity between the wealthiest and the least well off, with the poorest in society disproportionately exposed to climate injustice. For example, it is wrong that households without private transport pay more to access public transport and jobs, that their children are exposed to more air pollution, or that they spend a higher proportion of their income on standing charges and on heating poorly insulated homes.

A more equitable approach would be to give each household a basic energy allowance – as advocated by the Energy For All campaign (8). This allowance would be free to all and be paid for by higher tariffs for usage exceeding what is needed, in addition to properly taxing fossil fuel companies and ending their subsidies. An ambitious programme of home insulation would also be needed, including retrofitting, and updating new-build standards to minimise energy expenditure and ‘future-proof’ people’s dwellings and workplaces.

There is massive inequality both between and within nations, and it makes no sense to ask the people who are least responsible to carry the burden – not just as a matter of equity and justice, but because they cannot cut emissions on the same scale as the wealthy.

While the impact of passing tipping points will affect everyone on the planet, it is a lie to say, “we are all in this together”. At a global level, about half of all emissions come from 10 percent of the population, while the top one percent of emitters have a carbon footprint equivalent to about twice that of the bottom half of the world’s population. (3)

Every year sees a new record for global greenhouse gas emissions (aside from the blip of Covid) (4), and reversing this trend will require major transformation across all sectors, as well as a harnessing of resources and technology to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change already in the pipeline.

While the UK can point to a historic decline in domestic emissions, primarily driven by the shift from coal to gas, progress has stalled in recent decades and even reversed, with the government’s own climate change committee warning that we are not on track to meet our carbon budget commitments on the road to ‘Net Zero’. (5)

In fact, the ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal is a dangerous slogan in the hands of governments and fossil fuel companies when it is used to delay necessary action and generally relies on non-existent or non-scalable technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere at some point in the future.

The reality is that we have a small and ever-reducing carbon budget and the longer action is delayed, the more drastic it will have to be.

THINGS WE CAN DO

The Social Justice Party supports the Climate and Nature Bill (2024), which aims to limit the UK’s total emissions of carbon dioxide to no more than its proportionate share of the remaining global carbon budget; to set near-term and binding targets; and to establish a Climate and Nature Assembly comprising a representative sample of the population to deliberate on the best solutions consistent with these goals and with principles of equity. (6)

As a party, we are committed to even more radical forms of participatory democracy which we believe are necessary to convince sceptics, provide legitimacy and ensure social justice. For instance, we believe that each town or community should have its own assembly to call upon experts and let the people decide what is best for them, their communities and the local environment. Politicians have comprehensively failed us – it’s time for the people to model real democracy and take direct action where necessary to bring about a just transition.

As basic principles, we believe:

1. There is no future in fossil fuels.

This is not just a slogan, but a recognition that fossil fuels are a finite resource that must only be used for essential purposes (such as agriculture in its current form) and for creating the infrastructure necessary to bring about a transition to renewable energy. Consistent with calls from the United Nations and the International Energy Agency, there should be no new licences for oil, gas or coal, and all new projects licensed by the Tories should be cancelled by any incoming government.

Nor should biofuel power stations such as Drax – the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter – be counted as renewable when they are involved in the destruction of old-growth forests and rely on unproven carbon capture schemes to meet their own dubious pledges.

Further, there should be no public subsidy for such schemes, whether through our taxes or on our energy bills, and no tax loopholes for fossil fuel companies to expand their operations. Energy companies should be brought under public ownership and control and run for the benefit of people and planet, not profit. There should also be major public investment in expanding the national grid to enable more renewables to come on stream. This would not only lower energy bills, but enhance our energy security and further reduce our emissions.

2. Climate justice is social justice

As previously stated, it is inherently unjust that those who are least responsible for the climate and ecological crisis are paying the heaviest price. The most climate-vulnerable people in the UK and the most climate-vulnerable nations, are also generally the poorest. Centuries of resource-extractivism and colonialism have gone hand in hand.

This is not just a problem of historical legacy. Research by Hickel and others has shown that rich countries have appropriated around £120 trillion in resources from the global South since 1960, including billions of tons of raw materials and hundreds of billions of human labour hours per year. (7) Our excessive consumption of the products of these resources contribute to worse outcomes for the poorest and most climate-vulnerable. Paying our fair share towards loss, damage and adaptation in the Global South is only the start of what is necessary to reverse this injustice.

3. Biodiversity loss is our loss

While action on climate change is both urgent and essential, we must also focus on biodiversity loss as we enter this current period of mass extinction. Unlike previous extinction events caused by natural phenomena, the sixth mass extinction is driven by human activity, primarily (though not limited to) the unsustainable use of land, water and energy, as well as climate change. Habitat loss, the destruction of rain forests to support animal agriculture, mono-culture in food production and the wasteful growing of crops for bio-fuel (essentially enabling luxuries like air travel at the expense of people being able to feed themselves) are all major problems, along with chemical pollution, exhausting fish stocks, ocean acidification and plastic pollution – to name just a few.

As the World Wildlife Fund notes (9), “where and how food is produced is one of the biggest human-caused threats to species extinction and our ecosystems” – yet it is not discussed at all by our government for fear of upsetting powerful lobby groups or interfering with “personal choice” (for which read privilege).

Maintaining a diversity of species and a healthy ecosystem are not just niceties – they are essential to our very survival. Currently, the species extinction rate is estimated at between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than natural extinction rates – high enough to threaten important ecological functions that support human life on Earth, such as a stable climate, predictable regional precipitation patterns, and productive farmland and fisheries. (10)

The Climate and Nature Bill (2024) requires that the United Kingdom “halts and reverses its overall contribution to the degradation and loss of nature in the UK and overseas” so that by 2030 nature is “visibly and measurably on the path to recovery”. (11) The SJP endorses this aim, with specific policies to be set under the guidance of a Climate and Nature Assembly.

To achieve these aims and more, a paradigm shift is needed – away from economic growth as a measure of success to embrace sufficiency within planetary boundaries. Much of the theoretical work on this has already been done (12); we must now advocate for it and put it into practice.

References:

(1) Climate Change: Choosing to Fail, with Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson, 11/3/24 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVFSJINGueM)
(2) ‘Sodden Britain in the grips of wettest winter in 130 years’(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/weather-rain-flood-met-office-b2473794.html)
(3) Kevin Anderson, ibid
(4) https://globalcarbonbudget.org/fossil-co2-emissions-at-record-high-in-2023/
(5) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/jun/28/uk-has-made-no-progress-on-climate-plan-say-governments-own-advisers
(6) https://www.zerohour.uk/downloads/climate-and-nature-bill.pdf
(7) https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/5/6/rich-countries-drained-152tn-from-the-global-south-since-1960
(8) https://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/energyforall/
(9) https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-is-the-sixth-mass-extinction-and-what-can-we-do-about-it
(10) WWF, ibid
(11) see (6) above
(12) See, for example, Kate Raworth’s ‘Donut Economics’ (https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics) and Jason Hickel’s ‘The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions’ and ‘Less is More: How Degrowth will Save the World’.