Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.
By challenging traditional political policies, Forward Thinking is looking to re-design both public sector spending conventions and taxation/duty public sector income to create an environment capable of meeting the needs of today’s society and meeting the inevitable twin challenges of an ageing population and increased automation & artificial intelligence. To design an environment in which the population can actively contribute to prosperity economically and socially while taking responsibility for our environment.
15 Reasons Our Political Policies Are Failing Us All
We are not preparing a future-ready UK
Politicians are so engaged in ‘putting out the fires’ on day to day issues, many of which are caused by the system that they themselves have developed, that they are failing to prepare the UK to be a future-ready society. We are in the very early stages of the digital revolution, that will be as profound to social change as the industrial revolution was, but critically it will be different in resulting in reduced levels of employment at many levels. If we prepare our systems for the change it affords a huge opportunity of greater leisure time, chances to undertake social and artistic contributions etc, but if we fail to be Forward Thinking it will result in mass unemployment and financial difficulties to vast levels of the population. To quote Sir Anthony Seldon “We are sleepwalking into the biggest potential disaster of modern times”.
Public disillusionment with politics is high
In 2015 the number of people who did not vote was much higher than the number of votes any single party gained. Nonvoters represented 33.9% of the electorate. Less than a quarter of the electorate voted for the Conservative Government. The Electoral Reform Organisation can predict as almost certain “safe seats” equivalent to more than half the seats in a General Election, rendering 25.9 million potential votes as a foregone conclusion. That means the election is fought over an effective electorate of 19.38 million and only 281 candidates. Under such a system no one can be surprised that a third of people choose not to vote. In a recent television debate on whether a general election should be called a member of the public quipped “the problem with a general election is that the politicians will win it”.
The electoral system is inequitable
In the 2015 General Election one party gained 12.6% of the votes and gained one parliamentary representative. In contrast just 4.7% of the votes delivered 56 representatives to another party. The inequalities of the electoral system are clear, and may well contribute to the voters’ disaffection with politics. Change is needed so government accurately represents public views, and public interest grows through being seen to make a difference to public policy and social conditions.
Political disconnect with the public is high
Political disconnect with the public is such that 75% of politicians supported remaining in the EU, and only 25% supported the successful exit choice. In contrast 48% of the vote opted for remain and 52% of the vote supported exit. Moreover, politicians and businesses alike were astounded that the public would vote to exit the EU, oblivious to the experiences and views of the public. Politicians are failing to represent the electorate’ views in a vast range of areas. Polls on assisted dying consistently show most of the public want the law changed. They want to create a humane and ethical law on assisted dying. In September 2012 a poll taken by YouGov and commissioned by the British Humanist Association found that 81% of UK adults support mentally competent people with incurable or terminal diseases who wish to end their lives receiving medical assistance to do so, without those assisting them facing prosecution. The support included 82% of Anglicans and 66% of Catholics. In May 2014, 73% of respondents to a YouGov poll for Dignity in Dying supported Lord Falconer’s proposals to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill. Only 13% were against the proposals. Isidewith.com identifies 86% of people believe terminally ill patients should be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide. In the face of such public opinion, there can be no argument for a Government failing to make a change in the law.
National debt is spiralling
Britain’s national debt stands at £1.67 trillion, and will exponentially increase unless the entire mechanism of Government finance is overhauled. The debt is almost £28,900 for each person or £46,250 for each taxpayer. To put this in context, the national debt has risen by £250,000 while you have read just this paragraph. The real debt is much higher than these figures. If we include all liabilities including state and public sector pensions, the real national debt is closer to £4.8 trillion, that is £78,000 for every person in the UK. This is a result of successive Governments over promising public services that it does not finance through tax to remain popular. It immorally places an intolerable burden on future generations while giving a party power.
Public spending is inefficient
The public sector has a gross current purchase spend of £202 billion, or 28% of the total Government spend. Reducing this spend not only improves efficiency, but it provides an opportunity to cut taxes or increase front-line services. In 2010 the Coalition Government commissioned an entrepreneur to examine public spending. With the complexities and size of the spending, the report struggled to gain basic data in certain areas. It still showed that billions of pounds could be saved through centralising buying, professional negotiation of contracts and efficient buying systems. The report showed that between £600 million and £700 million could be saved on the £2 billion telecommunications payments alone. At no time since his report has the current purchase spend fallen.
Wealth and income inequality is high
OECD countries where the population have higher life satisfaction are seen to have less wealth and income inequality than the UK. The UK has the highest income inequality in the EU according to the OECD, followed by Latvia and Greece. It also has the sixth highest poverty rate (behind Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Estonia). More unequal societies have more problems with general health, mental illness, infant mortality, drug use, obesity, imprisonment rates, teenage pregnancies and homicides all of which increase public spending costs. More equal societies have better education and general health, more innovation, higher social mobility and more trust. Inequality is high in the UK and increasing. If the national minimum wage had kept pace with the FTSE 100 EO’S salaries between 1999 and 2015, it would have reached £20.70 per hour. In that period it reached just £6.70 (which was increased to £7.20 in 2016). Businesses need to take responsibility for their role in the public disconnect.
Taxes are not fit for purpose
Politicians have spent years adjusting an existing tax regime rather than designing a tax system for today. It has led to an inequitable and complex tax system. It is so complex a profession with the sole purpose of helping people and corporations to avoid taxes, often based on loopholes, has flourished. The UK tax laws run to 17,795 pages compared with 276 in Hong Kong. That is more than 17,500 pages of excess complications that inevitably leads to ‘loopholes’ – a mere trigger word for evasion and avoidance.
The system divides society
The vulnerable are being under funded while low, middle and upper income individuals are over-taxed. Under current tax laws this cannot be resolved and it divides society. Rather than dividing society, a fundamentally new tax structure based on fairness can unite the electorate. Evasion can be stopped by simplifying taxes and changing the nature of what is taxed. This will reduce taxes for 99% of the population, yet provide the same public income.
Benefits fail recipients and contributors
It is too complex and therefore expensive to administrate. There are administration costs including £3 billion in staff costs alone. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which runs welfare benefits to around 20 million people estimates that in 2014/15 some £3.2 billion was overpaid. This included £1.1 billion in fraud, £1.3 billion in claimant error and £0.7 billion in official error. Simplifying the system would result in cost reduction.
Politicians not services make too many decisions
Politicians decide on areas where the public services themselves are better informed and experienced to make decisions. For example politicians decide on issues such as nuclear armaments, but ask the armed services to fight wars on its behalf. Equipment (and staffing) decisions need to be made by the full-time professionals within the services. Their understanding of the ever-changing defence needs has to be superior to a career politician.
Disjointed policies are expensive
Our disjointed political policies are expensive because they lack consideration of their wider implications. A 2016 study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation identified that the financial costs of poverty (never mind the moral costs) are some £78 billion, including £29 billion treating conditions associated with poverty; £10 billion on schools providing specific initiatives; £9 billion on the police and criminal justice system with the higher incidence of crime in the deprived areas; £7.5 billion on children’s services and early years provision, £4.6 billion on adult social care and £4 billion on housing.
The public have no benchmarks
Without international benchmarking, the electorate is being deliberately misled. The public has no gauge on whether proposed public spending budgets are reasonable or outrageous, whether the service is efficient or wasteful, successful or failing. Compared with Europe the UK pension provision is woefully inadequate.
The issue of the ageing population
Current UK public benefits and services are simply not designed to cope with the inescapable growing implication of the ageing population. In the next 20 years the population of 0-19 year olds will grow by some 8%; 20-39 year olds by less than 4%; 40-59 year-old group will hardly increase. At the same time the 60-79 year-old group will increase by more than 31%, the 80-99 year-old group will increase by 82% and those aged 100 or more will increase by 271%. Health and social care budgets need major adjustment.
Waste is woeful
Britain has the highest food wastage in the EU, with each household throwing 13lb of food a week on average. This is after some 30% of Britain’s vegetable crop is never even harvested because their physical appearance doesn’t meet exacting standards. Millions of tonnes of edible food, especially fruits, vegetables and bread, are thrown away by supermarkets every year. Education and policies need to change to remove this appalling resource misuse. This comes alongside a growing use of food banks despite the fact the economy is growing at the strongest rate in Europe.