What if we had a government prepared to implement the policies that could radically change 21st-century Britain and improve people’s lives?
Social and economic policies are rarely communicated clearly to the public, but it’s never been more important for citizens to understand and contribute to the debate around the country’s future.
In everyday language, Rethinking Britain presents a range of ideas from some of the country’s most influential thinkers such as Kate Pickett and Ha-Joon Chang. From inflation to tax, and health to education, each contribution offers solutions which, if implemented, would lead to a fairer society.
Curated by leading economists from the Progressive Economics Group and accompanied by a ‘jargon buster’, this book is an essential aid for citizens who are interested in critiquing inequalities while looking to build a better future.
"In the face of climate and social breakdown we urgently need new public policy ideas. Rethinking Britain has them in wonderful, creative and powerful bucketfuls. It’s a must read for anyone who wants to reclaim Britain for the many, not the few." Paul Chatterton, University of Leeds
"Essential reading for politicians and citizens alike. It provides an insightful and accessible guide to progressive policies towards the economy and social sectors, challenging prevalent ‘austerity’ and market-dominated approaches." Frances Stewart, Oxford Department of International Development
"Brexit has displaced other policy issues, so this review of a variety of progressive proposals, with its helpful jargon buster, is a very valuable reminder of what needs to be done." Ron Smith, Birkbeck University of London
"The professional economists behind this book write with the conviction that informed citizens are empowered citizens - and the foundation of democracy. For those wanting to understand the economic forces shaping our lives and our country, this is a must-read." Ann Pettifor, Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME)
“Convincingly makes the case for a radical approach to policy making. Rethinking Britain is as urgent as it is readable.” Robert Skidelsky, University of Warwick
Sue Konzelmann is Reader in Management at Birkbeck, University of London. An economist by training, she is Co-executive Editor of Cambridge Journal of Economics.
Susan Himmelweit is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Open University. She is a past president of the International Association for Feminist Economics and founding chair and active member of the UK think tank the Women’s Budget Group. Her research interests are in gender issues in economic and social policy.
Jeremy Smith is Co-Director of Prime Economics and a barrister by profession. He was formerly Chief Executive of the London Borough of Camden, and later worked for local government in Europe and internationally. He is an expert in international urban development, as well as EU and national constitutional issues.
John Weeks is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London. His research interests are in theoretical and policy-applied macroeconomics and development.
Foreword by Patrick Allen
Interlude: ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall – who has the highest debt of all?'
PART ONE: BUILDING A FULL-EMPLOYMENT ECONOMY
When is austerity an appropriate economic policy?
Using the budget to manage output and employment
Why assessing the equality impact of economic policies matters
How should we manage inflation?
What should guide monetary policy?
Does the UK really have too much debt?
The macroeconomic role of progressive taxation
How do we build a fairer tax system?
Should we have fiscal rules?
Interlude: Has privatisation come off the rails?
PART TWO: PUBLIC INVESTMENT – PRIORITISING SOCIETY RATHER THAN PROFIT
How could we build competitive new UK industries?
Reindustrialising the UK
How can labour law be the instrument of progressive economic policy?
Wage policy and public investment for sustainable development
How do we build a sustainable economy?
Investing in social infrastructure
Why should the railway be renationalised?
How can we fix the broken energy sector?
Interlude: Why should citizens invest in losses, rather than for profit?
PART THREE: MAKING FINANCE WORK FOR SOCIETY
Why the UK needs a much better Companies Act
What should be the limits to limited liability?
Why do we need publicly listed companies?
How can citizens’ wealth funds address the problem of inequality?
How can finance better serve the real economy?
How can we channel credit to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?
What can we learn from Germany’s national development bank?
Interlude: Safe as (council) houses...
PART FOUR: GENUINE SOCIAL SECURITY
How can we tackle the UK’s private debt crisis?
How can we address the concerns of renters, without crashing house prices?
How do we make occupational pension funds fit for purpose?
How can we stop the social security system aggravating mental distress?
Reconstructing social security
How could Universal Basic Income (UBI) improve social security?
Would Universal Basic Income (UBI) address the causes of inequality, ill-being and injustice?
Interlude: What is ‘social’ infrastructure – and why does it matter so much?
PART FIVE: HOW TO PROVIDE FOR SOCIAL NEEDS
How can we stop privatisation of public services?
What has the market done to the English NHS and with what should we replace it?
What’s the best way to tackle health inequalities?
What’s the best way of delivering social care?
How do we make drug prices an easier pill for the NHS to swallow?
How much would high-quality childcare cost and how would we pay for it?
What should be done about private schools?
How do we make lifelong learning a reality for all?
References and further reading