Fighting coronavirus needs an economy that works for everybody

With COVID-19 already putting unprecedented strain on the global economy, the Green Party has proposed a package of bold economic measures, including the suspension of all mortgages and rents and the introduction of a basic income scheme, to support public services and provide assistance to society’s most vulnerable. 

Coins scattered on a table
Coins scattered on a table
Imogen Benson

The Green Party has called for a package of bold economic measures to support public services and provide assistance to the most vulnerable in society throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposals include the immediate suspension of all mortgages and rents on property, including mortgages on buy-to-let properties, for a period of one year. 

In addition to the government’s short-term proposals to support sick pay, the Greens have proposed the introduction of a per-household credit against utility bills, internet and mobile phone contracts, with an uplift for over 70s and people with disabilities. 

The package suggests that the government should take control of key public utilities for at least six months, establishing a body with the heads of the current private corporations, together with cross-party politicians and civil servants, to oversee their management.

Having long called for the introduction of Universal Basic Income (UBI), the Greens have proposed that a basic income system is now needed more than ever to guarantee that the most vulnerable have access to essential needs such as food. 

Green Party finance spokesperson and former Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who is also a Professor of Economics, commented: “The prime minister yesterday said 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 prioritises public health and resilience.”

The Greens have also suggested the development of a national economic triaging system to fund businesses that have a part to play in the UK’s zero-carbon future, with renewable energy companies, for example, receiving government support, while aviation companies would not.

Scott Cato continued: “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.”