Peter McColl explains what Scottish Green Party Westminster candidates can offer Scotland's third sector
The Scottish Green Party has both a comprehensive range of policies to support the third sector, and a range of policies in areas that will be of interest to the third sector. Many of our candidates and party members work and volunteer in the third sector, and have a good understanding of the challenges facing the sector. I worked for seven years in the third sector, have volunteered for over 20 years and have been a board member of a number of voluntary organisations.
The ethos of the third sector and that of the Greens is very similar, with a focus on the common good, on equality and on voluntary action. We believe that the third sector has a vital role to play in making a better country for all our citizens.
At heart the Green Party believes in prevention, rather than cure. During my time working in the voluntary sector I saw how inequality causes many deep seated social problems. Greens are committed to tackling this inequality, and would introduce a £10 minimum wage as a first step to ending inequality. A Citizen’s (or Basic) Income paid to all citizens could both end poverty and create a more caring society by supporting care work. This would also support artists and creative projects.
Greens have argued for longer funding arrangements of three or more years for the third sector, and for parity between workers in the third and public sector
Greens won a social enterprise strategy in 2005 and have delivered substantial investment in social enterprise and climate action, through funds including the Third Sector Enterprise Fund and the Climate Challenge Fund. These funds have supported substantial community action in tackling social challenges and building community resilience in the face of climate change. Greens would take this further by allowing communities to take control of underused assets of both the Scottish and UK Governments. We will introduce participatory planning and budgeting processes much more widely.
As a Green I have always been keen to promote better public procurement, that would allow the public pound to be spent for public good. Too often decisions are made that make sense only for the short term, and which shut out third-sector organisations, community groups and others delivering wider social and environmental benefits. Greens have argued for longer funding arrangements of three or more years for the third sector, and for parity between workers in the third and public sector. Greens have pushed for changes to European procurement rules and the use of community benefit clauses in all public sector contracts.
The major changes to welfare and the work programme have created major problems for many third sector organisations. Greens would end unfair benefit sanctions. Sanctions which hit disabled people disproportionately. Sanctions which are driving ever more people to foodbanks and other forms of community support.
Greens believe we need an economy for people and a society for all. We have a range of radical policies to reshape politics for those who need it most. We want to put communities at the heart of decision making, and ensure that participation is at the core of our politics. Most importantly we will end the unfair attack on the people who rely on support, and start the vital task of building a more equal society.
Peter McColl is the Scottish Green candidate for Edinburgh East.
This is the first of a series of articles from Scotland's five main political parties on their policies for this year's general election.