101 ways to change Scotland

101 ways to change Scotland
Herald Scotland
14.10.15

 

In an era of increasing austerity, humanitarian crisis and environmental degradation, the scale of change needed to deliver a better, fairer society may seem huge. And it is.

 

But in Scotland, we are in a unique position. For while the 2014 referendum campaign did not produce independence, it did generate an unprecedented level of political activism and debate – and as a result, Scotland now has one of the most engaged electorates in the world.

 

The desire for social justice was at the heart of the Yes campaign, and it remains a priority for a huge number of Scots as we look ahead to the 2016 Holyrood election.

 

The government we vote into Parliament in 2016 will not have all of the powers to make some of the most impactful changes, but it will still be a powerful government with plenty it can do. To this end, Common Weal – which calls itself a "think and do tank" – has got together with leading thinkers and academics to produce A Book Of Ideas, which sets out 101 original suggestions for transforming the country.

 

They plan to use the book to influence party manifestos in the run up to the 2016 elections, focusing the election debate around ideas and transformation, and away from personality politics. The aim is to reframe policy not for squeezing any available profit, but by focusing on people, and making happiness and wellbeing the beginning and end point for all policy.

 

Today, we publish the 101 ideas in full. We hope they will get people thinking and talking. So read them, talk about them … and let us know what you think. Which ideas do you like most? Which do you disagree with? Can you suggest ways these ideas might be implemented, developed or changed in order to produce the kind of societal transformation that Scotland needs and wants? And do have fresh ideas to add to the list?

 

Join the debate by writing to letters@sundayherald.com

 

Work

 

Create a parallel Scottish digital currency to inject £1 billion into the Scottish economy, putting £250 of additional, debt-free money into the hands of every Scottish citizen.

 

Nationalise all caring work – from childcare to care of the elderly.

 

Focus childcare on a high-quality curriculum of creative and emotional development.

 

Produce a kitemark to indicate businesses which have good industrial democracy practices.

 

Invest in a National Childcare Company with an explicit aim to standardise and increase wages in the sector.

 

Create a Scottish leadership study to identify barriers preventing people educated in Scotland from taking major leadership roles in the country.

 

Institute a scheme which would provide cash payments for the young unemployed who participate in a community improvement volunteer scheme.

 

Locate new manufacturing industries close to communities that are in particular need of good jobs

 

Tax

 

Use new powers to be devolved with the Scotland Bill to raise the top tax band (for those earning £150,000+) from 45p to 50p.. This will generate around £20m.

 

Introduce a new 43p tax band for those earning £50,000+, raising approximately £180m.

 

Abolish the Council Tax, and replace it with a fairer property tax aligned to current property prices.

 

Give local authorities the power to set the rates of a local income tax, a property tax, and a land value tax.

 

Over a five-year period, decentralise tax by allowing local authorities to raise 50 per cent of their block grant directly, while keeping the total tax that is normally taken constant. A 50 per cent block grant will remain to enable equalisation between local authorities.

 

Introduce a land value tax, to target high concentrations of wealth and unproductive use of land, and use the £500m-plus raised to reduce the impact of budget cuts . (Residential tenants would not be affected.)

 

Introduce a land value tax to encourage productive use of land.

 

Business and investment

 

Capitalise a new Scottish National Investment Bank using £200m of annual borrowing powers (of which there is currently a maximum of £304m for capital), thus enabling £2bn to be invested. For every £10 the bank lends it should have £1 held in cash reserves.

 

Create national mutual companies to invest in big national interventions, democratise the economy (with each citizen owning one tradeable share), and to work around the severe borrowing limits on Holyrood.

 

Create a national strategy for supporting micro-, small- and medium-scale manufacturing in Scotland, including a national distribution and export company, an open-access manufacturing infrastructure, and a shared services facility.

 

Promote an open source software business in Scotland, where designs and ideas can be universally accessed. For example, by making information in public agencies accessible to citizens

 

Create a national economic development approach which emphasises "smart specialisation" and plays to our strengths (for example, Scotland’s natural resources may allow us to specialise in renewable energy. production).

 

Stimulate domestic tourism.

 

Create a national energy company which would borrow against future income to develop new energy generation and manufacturing within Scotland, in collective ownership.

 

Move to a system of "business sector associations" to encourage innovation within each business sector

 

Develop an industrial policy toolkit (incliding, for example, municipal banking, export support and reform of public procurement) to help these "sector associations" realise their development potential.

 

Public services

 

Create a national policy academy to innovate the delivery of public services.

 

In consultation with the public, create a charter of public services – such as education, the NHS, transport infrastructure, justice and policing – and keep them fully public. Consider including energy, rail and bus travel, telephone and digital communication.

 

Create a specialist government "legal hit squad" to ensure public policy is driven by public, rather than private, interest.

 

Democracy

 

Set up national policy academies (NPAs) which would become centres of excellence in new thinking in public policy. This would provide a substantial resource to public bodies such as the civil service.

 

Rename existing "local" authorities as regional councils (possibly with some mergers) and introduce a new layer of properly local councils closer to communities and serviced by the existing staff.

 

Maximise devolution of powers by allowing every layer of government the option of "drawing down" powers from other layers of government, while ensuring consistent and fair delivery of core services across the country.

 

Democratise new regional authorities by requiring a full committee system open to the public, banning the use of arms-length (semi-private) organisations in core services, supporting local journalism, and introducing "citizen oversight committees" which allow the public to scrutinise decision-making.

 

Create a national policy academy dedicated to democratic innovation

 

Use the best practice in consultation via the Democracy Academy and let academies lead in organising public deliberation
Use mini-publics (a kind of citizen jury) as the default way to provide advice to government, avoiding "expert-only panels".

 

Use participatory budgeting for setting budgets

 

Create a network of citizen-owned forums to discuss ideas.

 

Develop a national policy forum on the issues emerging from these local forums.

 

End the use of commercial consultancy in advising government.

 

Democratise the governance of public institutions (such as universities or bodies like Creative Scotland) by giving the communities they affect the right to vote for members or representatives.

 

Oblige anyone engaged in lobbying in any layer of Scottish government to register the full budget of that campaign.

 

Explore a "right of recall" power to enable citizens to challenge elected politicians under specified circumstances.

 

Create a digital media fund to support and encourage innovation in digital journalism

 

Education

 

Encourage civic participation by developing a robust school curriculum on citizenship, for example, involving children in developing school budgets or cooking school meals.

 

Use local and national forums for politicians, civil servants, the educational establishment, the institutionalised profession, local authorities, pupils, and parents to collaborate on the development of schooling.

 

Design careers advice for young people with the aim of ending gender segregation in the labour market.

 

Design a personal and social education (PSE) syllabus to move away from grades-focused careers advice and towards a more holistic understanding of citizenship, human rights, and inequality.

 

Put quality of life at the heart of education. Place the emphasis on positive, happy development of pupils, not testing or other practices which create anxiety.

 

Economy

 

Create a parallel Scottish digital currency to inject £1 billion into the Scottish economy, putting £250 of additional, debt-free money into the hands of every Scottish citizen.

 

Publish regular comprehensive national measurements which indicate more about how we are doing as a country than simply GDP – for example in equality, industry, the economy, equality, etc.

 

Rebalance the economy through an industrial policy, and commit to direct intervention where needed to to stimulate Scottish industries which the market alone has failed to develop.

 

Pursue a consistent strategy of asset-based community development’ in which regeneration is put in the hands of local communities

 

Housing

 

Create a National Housing Company, which would borrow against rents to build a new generation of public rented homes in Scotland.
Task the National Housing Company to develop a "mortgage to rent" system to protect home owners with unaffordable mortgage payments, allowing them to change to renting.

 

Make the control of house prices an explicit aim and national priority of the increased housing supply by the National Housing Company

 

Put in place a system of rent control in the private letting market, and increase security of tenure through ending "no fault" grounds for repossession and scrapping short-term tenancy contracts

 

Task the National Housing Company with ensuring sufficient supply of very affordable rented housing.

 

Ensure all public housing has high-quality disability access.

 

De-segregate housing along socioeconomic lines though mixed community planning

 

Ensure that the management of public rented housing is extremely local, eg managed at street or block level.

 

Infrastructure

 

Create municipal energy retail companies to democratise the retail energy market and reduce costs to suppliers

 

Task the National Energy Company with producing a national heating strategy based on much greater reliance on renewables, less on imported gas, and to improve the efficiency of heating

 

Develop a municipal banking sector offering households and small businesses supportive, local banking which does not seek to maximise profit through practices such as heavy marketing of loans

 

Explore whether a national mutual company approach to broadband and telecommunications can be introduced in the future

 

Put in place a package of measures to ensure "food sovereignty", in order that Scotland is nationally resilient in growing and supplying
sustainable food for all citizens.

 

Create a national policy academy for farming, food and agriculture to improve farming techniques and technologies in Scotland
Institute an ambitious "next generation" strategy to prepare Scotland now for rapidly developing transport technologies.

 

Society

 

Protect refugees and asylum seekers within the confines of the UK asylum system, providing decent housing and refusing Police Scotland’s consent with dawn raids.

 

Embed environmental performance factors into every element of policy development.

 

Create a national policy academy for conflict resolution, non-violence, peace, and international relations
Ensure proper funding for women’s refuge shelters to support women and children who have suffered from domestic abuse.
Invest substantially in hardship funds as a means of dealing with the failures of the UK benefits system.

 

See criminal justice as a quality of life issue, leading to an assumption against jail and an end to short sentences altogether

 

See policing as a quality of life issue; with extremely localised policy and practice, and move away from criminalisation policies like stop-and-search.

 

Equality

 

Oblige sector associations and economic development agencies to promote economic equality.

 

Explore how government can set conditions to encourage employers to take actions which reduce inequality.

 

Stimulate higher pay within in traditionally feminine employment sectors, such as childcare.

 

Put in place free national childcare support to make careers for parents (and in particular women) easier.

 

Promote a model of "better businesses for women", for example with family-friendly hours and reporting on pay equality

 

Place a gender equality duty on economic development agencies

 

Make employment tribunals on sex discrimination free.

 

Take a human rights-focussed approach to all equalities issues and embed human rights in all public practices

 

Set a good example on equalities in public life through all actions of public agencies.

 

Set-up a national policy academy for Equality

 

Food
Create a legal "right to food" to create a legal framework for tackling food poverty

 

Consider large-scale collective bulk purchasing options to reduce the cost of core staple foods

 

Explore a public cafe scheme to provide inexpensive, good food in a cafe setting, within neighbourhoods with high rates of food poverty.

 

Design new schemes for food purchasing to sustain better quality food production and healthier eating.

 

Environment

 

Reduce energy costs using a system of municipal energy companies

 

Change policy in the planning process to reorientate it towards public good and away from private profit

 

Increase the quality of all housebuilding both through the manufacture of public rental housing in German-style house factories via the national housing company and by increasing building standards

 

Create a housing and transport national policy academy to advise on new ways to develop towns, cities, and communities focused on good design and quality of life – not short-term private profit

 

Improve the aesthetic quality and environment of communities with a "zero tolerance of grim" mentality. For example, a community improvement volunteer service could carry out painting and landscaping .

 

Take a "next generation" approach to developing town centres, redefining their functions so that they adapt to current needs.

 

Make connecting communities with services, facilities, the arts and other social goods a pivotal condition of any transport strategy.
Entertainment and the arts

 

Set out a national de-consumerisation strategy, promoting activities such as learning, crafts, hobbies, domestic travel, sport, participation in the arts, and so on.

 

Build a national skills database and a learning for fun strategy

 

Put in place a national strategy for improving participation in the arts, both as audience and artist

 

Require public agencies (such as schools) to control commercial marketing and advertising within their premises and in public spaces.

 

Explore the possibility of devising a form of citizen’s income for artists.

 

Seek audience expansion in arts through school, transport, and by exploiting the low marginal cost of extra performances.

 

Stimulate a wide range of creative professions by revisiting proposals for a Scottish national digital channel.

 

Allow football fans to bring their clubs into fan ownership if a majority vote in favour of it.