In Ed Miliband’s speech on welfare this morning, the Labour leader set out to reframe the welfare debate. He spoke of wanting to put “decent values at the heart of the system” after the Tories’ relentless attacks on so-called ‘shirkers’ but that was just hot air says the Green Party. Miliband’s actual proposed reforms represent another lurch the right for his struggling party. As the Coalition government and Labour’s welfare policies become increasingly indistinguishable, voters are left with no real choice. Only the Green Party supports a compassionate, empowering and effective welfare support for all.
Miliband said a future Labour government would put a three-year cap on spending on structural benefits including housing benefit and other non-cyclical costs. Green Party London Assembly Member, Darren Johnson ,points out “As high rents are the problem, we need to stabilise them with rent controls and build lots of social housing. Low pay is the problem, so we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. His proposals would help London slightly, but still leave most people stuck with flat pay and rocketing rents. Even the Mayor of London admitted recently that the benefits bill would be lower if we paid everyone a living wage.”
Where Miliband did call for fairer welfare measures, it was a case of too little, too late. Labour’s position on a living wage and rent control are simply watered-down versions of established Green Party policies.
Miliband wants subsidies for employers to implement a living wage set higher than the minimum wage. He said: "For every pound that employers pay above the minimum wage towards a living wage, government would save 50p in lower tax credits and benefits, and higher revenues. We should look at offering some of these savings back to those employers to persuade them to do the right thing and pay the living wage."
The Green Party calls for a living wage for all. “We need to make the minimum wage a living wage: if you work fulltime, you should be paid by your employer enough money to live on, pro-rata for part-time staff who choose that work pattern. No ifs, no buts. Your employer needs to meet the cost of your subsistence”, says Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson has long been pressing London Mayor Boris Johnson for proper rent controls to make the English capital a fairer place. “Over thirteen thousand Londoners being evicted in the first three months of 2013 is just one of the terrible impacts of rent rises happening at the same time as the welfare safety net is being cut to shreds. We cannot go on pricing low paid workers out of swathes of London, it’s hurting our economy and pricing out a generation of renters,” says Johnson.