Feelings of insecurity take many forms and come from many different areas of our lives. Without a safe and secure community, we might not have the conditions for secure employment, decent homes and the opportunity to thrive. Without strong enforcement of law and order, we worry that our families, homes and communities might be at risk. When we are taken out of our comfort zones by major life events such as redundancy or relocation (increasingly frequent occurrence in the modern, flexible economy) and forced to comply with bureaucratic systems under penalty of sanction for any error made, feelings of security can evaporate. Addressing the multiple causes of insecurity requires action on a number of fronts. We need to invest in frontline policing, quality housing and national infrastructure to create better links between rural and urban areas. We must try new approaches to tackle the root causes of homelessness and poverty. At the national and international level, we must prioritise use of diplomacy and soft power, while also investing in appropriate military capabilities to secure our future in the face of uncertain global threats.
Limited access to affordable housing is widely accepted as a significant and pressing problem in modern Britain. It is driven in the main by high house prices and the inadequate number of homes built every year, but there are other factors. The problem is not uniform across the country. Regional concentration around London, the South East and our other major cities, reflects too few opportunities in the UK’s regions. House prices of almost eight times earnings across England and Wales hide huge regional variations. In specific areas of the country, there is some evidence that unusual pressures have arisen contributing to significant impacts on house prices. This includes the use of Central London property as a store of value by UK and overseas buyers and resistance to development in some communities. To address this problem, we must also address access to social housing. Renew will concentrate on improving housing security for the long term. A surprisingly small 5.9% of the UK is currently built on; if we were to build on 2% of the remaining "green" land, it would solve the housing shortage for the next 100 years.
Economic insecurity, meanwhile, needs to be tackled through a renaissance of the UK’s technical industries. Innovative new technologies such as clean energy, digital services and robotics will be the bedrock of this new economic era. We will find the best ways to harness these new technologies to create additional GDP, generating billions in additional revenue for the Exchequer. We will not be afraid to intervene when dominant companies threaten the growth of smaller ones through restrictive monopolies, particularly in an evolving digital economy not yet used to dealing with the challenges presented by Silicon Valley corporations.
The development of tax policy in the UK over past decades has been inconsistent and incoherent. The UK tax system is overbearing and complex, there have been numerous policy reversals, and many areas most needing reform have been not been addressed due to political weakness. Renew will press for a thorough overhaul to increase clarity and equity.
Encourage house building and a more stable housing sector by:
- Establishing a government owned ‘Crown Corporation’ (similar to those used in Canada) tasked with developing and delivering housing
- Increasing investment in communities near proposed developments where there have been significant increases in housing density
- Reviewing legislation to enable government or industrial sites to be developed into housing for key workers
- Reviewing long-term tenancy and leasehold legislation, so that people have power over their homes and better defence against exploitative tenancy agreements and rogue managing agents
Improve planning powers for local authorities by:
- Reviewing practices in Local Planning Authorities (LPAs)
- Enabling higher Council Tax on properties left empty for prolonged periods
- Providing local authorities with greater autonomy to borrow money in order to build new social and affordable housing
- Clamping down on the abuse of the Viability Assessment mechanism by developers when building social and affordable housing
- Investigating ways of allowing local people to invest in local building projects for low risk, steady returns
- Supporting local action to encourage civic renewal in our high streets and restore pride in our cities, towns and villages
Ensure a proper regulatory response to developments in the modern job market by:
- Addressing the power imbalance of exclusive ‘zero hours’ contracts
- Incentivising business to provide, support and encourage employee wellness schemes
- Better enforcing the National Minimum Wage in order to prevent undercutting of UK wages
- Tightening-up rules on ‘self-employment’ status to prevent abuse and the undermining of employee’s rights.
- Challenging the way unemployment statistics are recorded and reported by government so they better reflect the impact of self-employment and ‘platform economy’ jobs on headline figures)
Reframe our Police and Criminal Justice System by:
- Increasing funding to the police to reverse the decline in police numbers, prioritising the presence of police on the streets whilst supporting innovative technology to fight crime
- Bringing together multi-agency teams so their collective expertise can be brought to bear on the upstream drivers of violent crime in urban centres
- Investing in communities most affected by violent and gang crime in order to provide opportunities for those young people most at risk
- Reviewing existing legislation to increase efficiency in the criminal justice system and reduce the unplanned and unstructured extension of criminal justice legislation beyond the purpose for which it was originally intended.
- Taking steps to legalise cannabis use, thereby removing it from the black market and reducing the power of drugs gangs, potentially raising significant funds to invest in public services hollowed out by austerity
- Reviewing sentencing guidelines in order to prioritise schemes that benefit communities for certain non-violent crimes
- Reorganising arrangements for the sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders so they are focussed much more tightly on ensuring prior offenders have no incentive to return to crime
Seek to create new economic opportunities by:
- Rebalancing our service-based economy through ‘new industrialisation’, creating new innovative industries that will rejuvenate towns and cities
- Investing in infrastructure around the country, away from London and the south east
- Prioritising reforms that increase GDP in the immediate term without requiring government funding, such as greater access to skilled labour
- Aiming to ensure our public finances over the medium to long term are within a debt to GDP ratio of 60% (currently around 85%) and annual deficits up to 3% of GDP (currently approx 2.5%)
- Creating opportunity for additional spending by maintaining the deficit at 1-2% of GDP rather than running a surplus
Review our tax system by:
- Developing easy to use digital platforms to reduce the administrative burden for everyone calculating and paying taxes, both individuals and corporations
- Looking to reduce the tax code, making it simpler and more streamlined
- Prioritising low taxes for small business owners, recognising the importance of enterprise in delivering innovation and economic growth
- Entering into agreements with international partners to tax large technology companies (Apple, Google, Amazon etc.) more effectively, so they make a fair contribution to the country’s infrastructure
- Reviewing the effectiveness of tax evasion laws, both monetary and non monetary, focussing on what works internationally and tackling cross-border avoidance and evasion
- Regularly informing the public about the level of evasion, breaking it down by sector, and showing the consequences for public services
Reinforce our national security by:
- Investing in capabilities designed to counter the threat posed by hybrid warfare, which requires innovative, agile solutions and requires a fundamental rethink of national security institutions
- Re-examining the advantages and disadvantages of existing and planned military capabilities, setting out a roadmap to ensure our defence forces are modern, credible, robust, and ready to deal with the diverse challenges presented around the world today.
- Supporting both the Modernising Defence Programme which whilst current underway has unfortunately had delays to its delivery, and our nuclear programme as part of a package for protecting our national security
- Revisiting inefficient procurement processes and the poor management of major projects