EDUCATION FOR ALL
Money spent on schools, and "class sizes", can be important determinants for a good education, but they are not, in themselves, the only requirements.
Ultimately, a good education depends upon the culture of the school. If a school has good leadership, high staff morale, a positive ethos, good teachers, discipline, well-behaved children, and proven teaching methods, then more can be accomplished than with money and small class sizes alone.
If a school does not have these essentials then you can throw money at it, and you can reduce class sizes as much as you like, but you'll still be turning out children who can't read, write, add-up or do their times-tables.
- We Support Parental Choice. Parents have a right to decide how best to educate their children. This includes Private Schooling, Faith Schooling, Single-sex Schooling, Local Schooling and Home Schooling.
However, while we support the Parents' Choice to send their children to whatever school they want, we also recognise that many parents do not have the luxury of a choice, and therefore our aim should be to raise all schools up to the level of the best schools.
- Full student grants and tuition fees for everyone.
- Oppose top-up fees.
- All students in full time education to receive half-price public transport across Scotland.
- We Support a Programme of Investment in Public Libraries. A good library is a Street Corner University. Glasgow is presently leading the way in upgrading and expanding its library facilities and demonstrating its commitment to life-long learning. See for example, Anniesland Library.
HOUSING FOR ALL
- Cancel Local Authority Housing Debt. Each Local Authority has a Public Loans Board, which borrows money from the banking sector either directly from the banks, or via central government. The Local Authority Housing Debt is the debt associated with the Council Housing budget. The Stock Transfer programme is an attempt by Local Authorities to offload the debt burden to the private sector and the taxpayer. We aim to free Local Authorities of their housing debt by advocating the complete cancellation of the fraudulent debt which the banking system created out of nothing in the first place.
- Support the Right of Tenants to Buy. Tenants should have the right to buy their own home, but instead of the money going, by law, to pay off the Local Authority Housing Debt, it should go into the Local Authority Housing Revenue account to spend locally on housing - either new build, or regeneration - which should be in addition to any money already allocated.
There is nothing wrong with selling council houses to individual tenants who wish to buy their homes, so long as the council is maintaining an important commitment to the provision of public sector housing.
- Oppose Stock Transfer. The maintenance of the council housing stock is vital. It is a valuable community asset, without which a local authority has greater difficulty and expense tackling homelessness.
- Amend Tenant's Choice. Public sector tenants already have a right to choose a new landlord provided it is one approved by Communities Scotland (the Scottish Executive's housing agency). We suggest amending Tenant's Choice to enable tenants to transfer from a Housing Association, back to their Local Authority, if the Housing Association is not satisfactory.
- Investigate the Affordability of Rents. More and more people are becoming dependent upon rented accommodation. We advocate a comprehensive survey of rented accommodation which will examine whether people are paying rents that are affordable, the percentage of disposable income such rents are consuming, and the level at which it should be set in order to lift low income families out of the poverty trap.
- Refurbish Existing Stock. We advocate high quality public housing, with double glazing, central heating, damp-proofing and the installation of high-tech security features, including window locks, strong front doors, CCTV cameras and good lighting.
- Encourage Green Housing. We advocate legislation to ensure all new-build housing, whether in the public or private sector, is energy efficient, and includes a solar energy content - even in Scotland!
- Recycle our Houses. In Glasgow, for example, we already have a wonderful housing resource just sitting waiting in buildings which are lying unused because nobody can afford the rent. Disused buildings, old warehouses, and premises sitting empty from the first floor up, can and should be converted into housing.
Replace Council Tax with a Local Income Tax, which is built into the normal Income Tax payment. It's fairer and it's easier to adjust and collect.
This means that Income Tax will consist of a local tax aspect as well as a national tax aspect. Each Local Authority will determine how much Local Income Tax it is going to levy. It will all be collected by the Inland Revenue from the same wage packet.
What we pay will be reflected in our income, not our house size, or the area in which we live. We will be taxed on our income band, not our property band, or geographical area. All incomes below £12,000 automatically exempt.
It is the simplest tax to collect because everything is already set up. The Inland Revenue already has the details, it can be taken out of our wage-packet before we receive it, and nobody is able to escape paying.