Plan B puts work life balance at centre of recovery

A Plan B for the economy published today by a left-wing think tank puts work life balance policies at the centre of economic recovery.

A Plan B for the economy published today by a left-wing think tank puts work life balance policies at the centre of economic recovery.

The Plan B: a good economy for a good society, published by Compass, has the support of 100 economists and comes amid fears that the UK is heading for a double dip recession.

It criticises the Government policy of big cuts to public spending over the next five years, saying that is "failing to provide economic growth or jobs and could in fact increase the deficit". It claims GDP is being reduced by up to 2% a year.

It suggests the cuts should be reversed until the economy is growing strongly and proposes a new round of quantitative easing focusing on boosting renewable energy; increasing some benefits to get people spending; cancelling Private Finance Initiative debts; introducing a Financial Transaction (Robin Hood) tax on the banks; improving tax collection; focusing on health prevention; and creating a new British Investment Bank that focuses strategy on low carbon sectors such as housing, transport and renewables which it says would help create the conditions for start-up businesses to develop.

At its heart is a focus "on the ‘core economy’ of families and moving beyond ‘GDP’ as the sole measure of economic success and rebalancing time spent working and ‘living’". It also proposes a reduction in wage inequality and more employee engagement. 

It says: "Time is a key resource in the core economy. Everyone has the same amount, of course, but some people have much more control over their time than others, especially those with low-paid jobs as well as caring responsibilities. We propose there should be a slow but steady move towards much shorter and more flexible paid working hours. That way, people who currently have jobs that demand long hours will get more time for leisure activities and unpaid activities as parents, carers, friends, neighbours and citizens. It will help to address practical and cultural barriers to equal participation and iron out inequalities between women and men."

It proposes a gradual move towards a more time-rich workforce via trading wage increments for shorter hours year-on-year, giving employers incentives to take on more staff, limiting paid overtime, training to fill skills gaps, raising the minimum wage, and introducing more progressive taxation and arrangements for flexible working to suit the different needs of employees – such as job sharing, school term shifts, care leave and learning sabbaticals.

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