Lloyd Day, Green Party candidate for Portsmouth North, gives his answers to the five questions recently submitted by S&C readers to all local candidates in the 2019 election.
We recently asked S&C readers and social media followers what one question you would ask all the candidates in Portsmouth North and South in the General Election. From the many – and diverse – answers we received, we selected five questions, which we sent to all the local candidates.
To choose the top 5, we took into account the number of times questions were asked on each topic, whether questions were suitable for all candidates (i.e. some related to individual candidates, or to either Portsmouth North or South), and whether we have seen the topic or question covered in other local reporting (e.g. we didn’t include a question on Brexit for this reason).
Q1: What amendments would you make to the Gender Recognition Act to advance the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK, and what steps will you take to ensure all public bodies serving the area comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 as they relate to single sex exemptions?
It is a Green Party manifesto pledge to remove the spousal veto so that married trans people can acquire their gender recognition certificate without having to obtain permission from their spouse. We will also change the law so an X gender marker can be added to passports for non-binary and intersex people who wish to use it, and update the Gender Recognition Act to allow trans youth and non-binary people to get legal recognition through self-declaration.
Q2: The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently reported that the worst-off 10% of households have lost 7% of their income since 2019, rising to 18% among families with children. The highest earning 10% have seen their incomes fall by 4%. How will your party ensure that the social security system is fair and compassionate, and that the benefit system lifts families out of poverty – closing the vast disparity of income and wealth in our country?
The Green Party will phase in the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) sufficient to cover an adult’s basic needs. UBI will be an unconditional payment, paid to all UK residents regardless of employment status. This will replace most income-related benefits with UBI. Replacing a large range of variously means-tested benefits with one unconditional payment will simplify and streamline the system. The result will be to ensure nobody will be worse off. The adult rate of UBI of £89 per week will result in around a 6% increase in disposable income over five years for someone in fulltime work and paid the average salary. It is the Green Party’s firm intention to increase in particular adult rates at regular intervals during the first full parliamentary term. Families with an income of under £50,000 per year will receive an additional supplement of £70 per week for each of their first two children and a further £50 per week for each additional child. This will be funded by drawing directly on income from the Carbon Tax to help fund UBI, thereby ensuring that the proceeds of the tax on carbon emissions help meet the cost of enabling people to make the transition to a carbon free future.
Q3: What will you do to help homeless people in Portsmouth, with particular regard to the housing shortage and cuts to services, e.g. for mental health, for trauma survivors, and for people suffering from problematic drug and alcohol use?
The Green New Deal for housing will empower local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and create a total of 100,000 new homes for social rent (council homes) a year, built to the Passivhaus or equivalent standard. This standard will see these new homes use 90% less energy for space heating than the average home, significantly reducing household bills.
The Green Party will increase funding for the NHS by at least £6 billion per year each year, until 2030 (a 4.5% increase on the 2018/2019 NHS Budget), and a further £1 billion a year in nursing higher education, allowing for nursing bursaries to be reinstated. This will constitute a programme of sustained investment, bringing spending of health services in the UK up to northern European averages. We will focus funding to enable major improvements to mental health care to truly put it on an equal footing with physical health care, and ensure that everyone who needs it can access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days.
Q4: Portsmouth residents have told us they are unable to book a GP appointment within 3 weeks, and are referred to a walk-in service, which one resident described as ‘a stressful experience in itself’. What is your plan to improve and protect the NHS? And how will you improve public health in the city, including with regard to mental health and obesity in the city?
We will build on the founding principles of the Health Service – universal, publicly provided healthcare free at the point of delivery – to widen and enhance the services provided. This will include fit-for-purpose mental and reproductive health services available to all. The increased funding that will enable this will be complemented by a devolution of healthcare, with communities given more control over health services and individuals supported to take steps to improve their own health.
The Green Party will roll back privatisation of the NHS, through repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and abolishing the internal market. This will hugely reduce private sector involvement in the NHS, which has proved to be a costly and dangerous distraction from universal healthcare provision. A key requirement will be to increase GP numbers thus increasing the availability of appointments. However, in my personal experience I have often found walk in and wait GP consultations are often more convenient and provide quicker assessment and treatment than booking appointments in advance. I would think a mix of both walk in consultations and pre-booked appointments would proved the public the best all round service.
Q5: In terms of both policy and funding, how will you improve support to Portsmouth schools, including meeting the needs of vulnerable children with Special Educational Needs?
The Green Party’s plans on education are to relieve the financial squeeze on schools after years of education cuts, by increasing funding by at least £4 billion per year. Focus funding to reduce class sizes down to under 20 in the long term, to help teachers focus on individual pupil needs and create a pleasant learning environment. Free schools from centrally imposed testing regimes, OFSTED inspections, rigid national curriculum and league tables. Teachers will be trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress according the needs of their pupils, not to meet one-size-fits-all measurements that currently cause huge stress to pupils and teachers alike.
Create a fully inclusive education system, where children with special education needs are able to access their local school and are fully supported in that school. This means ensuring accessible buildings, an inclusive curriculum and the provision of specially trained teachers across the school system. Specialist schools will be retained, for when children and parents would prefer that option.
Introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues. We will also enable more outdoor lessons, where children will learn more about nature, animals and the environment, and a new Nature GCSE.