Friday, October 20, 2017

How Green work can help with real Inclusion in Bristol

Went into Bristol yesterday to Hamilton House to a Green and Black meeting to discuss how to increase inclusion in the green movement. It was organised by Bristol Green Capital with the Cabot Institute of Bristol University.  Caroline Lucas was speaking, and also George Ferguson, but the main inspiring speakers were Zakiya Mckenzie and Jasmine (Jaz) Ketibuah-Foley, who lead the Green and Black initiative, which is intended to increase participation of BAME people in the greening of Bristol.
There was plenty of opportunity for everyone to chip in.

My 2p was that one major source of social exclusion is unemployment, and that it is madness to inflict unemployment on communities and individuals when there is so much good work to be done.
(Answering, Jaz agreed that we need to make inclusion a permanent thing, not just a topic to be discussed at meetings. There is a problem if paid Green workers are taking about inclusion to unpaid BAME volunteers).

That's all I said, because I didn't want to be one of those people who hold forth at length from the floor, but what I would have said is this:

  1. Unemployment is known to be bad for the health of communities and individuals.
  2. It is totally unreasonable to insist that claimants  spend their whole time applying for jobs that do not exist, and then blaming them because they do not have a job, and paying a dole grudgingly, on condition that they do no work.
  3. Universal Credit, the Tories' reform to benefits, is a chaotic, unpleasant mess that is plunging people deeper into poverty.
  4. Basic Income (BI) is the ultimate solution to the problem of excessively complex benefits, and is being looked at in several places. 
  5. However, BI is (wrongly) seen as expensive and a threat to the work ethic, and as the UK is a backward country, we will be one of the last places to introduce BI (unless we break the stranglehold of the five big media barons, and possibly elect a non-Tory Government).
  6. Green Wage Subsidy by-passes the objections to BI, because it allows the principle of BI to be introduced and tested on a local basis, and is built on getting people into good work.
  7. Bristol could run a pilot of Green Wage Subsidy.
This is how we could introduce Green Wage Subsidy to Bristol, in order to make Bristol the UK's first full-employment city by stimulating work in the Green/Social sector of Bristol's economy.
  1. The Council sets up a small office that can assess enterprises that apply to them.
  2. Enterprises - local, social, voluntary, charities, small businesses, public services apply for certification that what they are doing is of benefit to Bristol's environment or people.
  3. Groups that gain certification can go to the Job Centre and take on new workers - in addition to their present workforce. 
  4. The new workers take their JSA, ESA or other benefit into work with them, and their new employer makes their wage up to the going rate for the job.
That's it. Simple as that. The benefits are transformed from being a dead dole to a stimulus for the Green economy in Bristol.

For more detail on how GWS works, click here.

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