Green Party wants to nationalise utilities to fight the coronavirus

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THE GREEN Party has called after a ‘wartime-style policy for economic management’ until COVID-19 is suppressed or an effective vaccine has been invented.

Among the suggestions in the package of proposals to support the economy during the pandemic is setting key public utilities under public administration for the next six months, with a possible extension to 12 months.

Green Party finance spokesperson Molly Scott Cato, who is also a professor of economics, commented on the plans in a public statement on 17 March: “The Prime Minister said [yesterday] that this is like entering a war, and so we are proposing a wartime-style policy for economic management.

“To address the challenge of this highly contagious virus we must all work together, and everybody must be protected.

“More importantly, they must believe that our society is working for them.

“This crisis is exposing the weaknesses in the UK economy and accentuates the longstanding need for a fundamental shift towards an economy that priorities public health and resilience.”

In this policy, utilities would be managed by a government body in cooperation with the heads of the corporations, cross-party politicians and civil servants.

Some of the other key policies in the Green Party economic package are:

  • The suspension of mortgages and rents on property, including mortgages on buy-to-let properties.

  • The introduction of a per-household credit against utility bills, internet and mobile phone contracts

  • The introduction of a basic income scheme to cover essential needs, primarily for food.

  • A system of ‘economic triage’ to ensure that state finance is directed towards businesses that have a future in the zero carbon world beyond 2030 and are based in areas of lower depressed economic performance.

Ms Scott Cato added: “The only way for our economy to get through this crisis is for the government to play a far more interventionist role than we have seen since the 1950s.

“But the crisis also offers us an opportunity to ensure that we emerge with an economy more prepared to tackle the longer and deeper crisis of climate change.”

The government passed all stages of its 329-page coronavirus emergency bill through the House of Commons today.

Expected to come into force by the end of Thursday, the bill would grant powers to ministers that would be unprecedented at peacetime.

Any legislation has to pass to the House of Lords once it has cleared the Commons and as the government has no majority, the bill might change before passed.

It is possible that the Green Party could try to have their measures to be included in the coronavirus legislation.

The Party has called for a ‘Coronavirus Solidarity Pact’, which among other policies suggests a ban on the cut-off of electricity, gas and water supplies to residential properties and small businesses during the crisis.