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The UK economy is no longer delivering rising living standards for a majority of the population and it needs a fundamental overhaul, says a new report.
The Commission for Economic Justice’s report says average earnings have stagnated for more than a decade, too many people are in insecure jobs, young people are set to be poorer than their parents and the nations and regions of the UK are diverging further, fuelling political division.
It says long-standing problems such as weaknesses in productivity, investment and trade “will not be addressed by incremental change or trying to ‘muddle through’”. It calls for changes of the magnitude of reforms witnessed in the 1940s and 1980s and for a more equal economy. It says economic justice needs to be ‘hard-wired’ into the way the economy works.
The report publishes a 10-part plan for reform, including measures to promote a move away from over-dependence on the finance sector towards a more diverse array of manufacturing and other export-oriented industries across the country, ‘investment-led growth’, greater bargaining power for workers to argue for better wages and conditions and reduced working time and ‘managed automation’.
Among the proposals are a call for all firms with more than 250 employees to be required to publish their pay scales and for reporting on ethnic pay gaps to be made mandatory and for all pay gap reporting should be accompanied by mandatory action plans.
It also proposes that shared parental leave should be changed to include a period of ‘use it or lose it’ paternity leave, to encourage men to take a greater role in care responsibilities; that all jobs should be required to be available and advertised on a flexible and potential job-share basis, except with good reason; and for an increase in the number of bank holidays, with new ones linked to national productivity rises.
Calling for a fully decentralised approach, the report states: “Change is possible, and urgent. Many other countries have economies that are both fairer and more successful than ours. As we confront the challenges of Brexit, of further globalisation, and of technological, demographic and environmental change, doing nothing won’t keep things the same – it will make things worse. The economy we have is a matter of choice, and changing it is a matter of democracy. Fundamental reform can be achieved, if we have the will to do so.”