1. Amendments to use of prison.
- reduce the use of short sentences, make the minimum sentence at least an academic year long to be served in prison. [allow time for effective therapeutic interventions to be undertaken/prisoners to gain qualifications that will help them find jobs]
- allow people who complain "x in prison gets treated better than me living on benefits" etc to go and live in a prison if they so choose, subject to the same rules and regulations as prisoners. [Aim is the place where this happens is ultimately a supportive half-way house type place, because people who'd actually choose that probably need some help establishing an independent life]
- increase the level of mental health expertise available in prisons.
- increase the availability of diagnostic testing for dyslexia etc. in prisons.
- remove prisoners with IQs of less than 70 to more suitable settings.
2. Benefits system
- design it so that there is always something that can be lost and always an incentive for doing the right thing. Long term sanctions are (apart from inhumane) not effective in promoting behavioural change.
- where money is being withheld because of someone's behaviour, it isn't lost forever and they can access it as they show they are complying with reasonable requirements - there's always a way to earn the money lost back.
- reduce overall use of sanctions - should be an exceptional thing, with staff being incentivised for using them as little as possible.
- work out the correct 'nuisance value' figure ie. the amount where it costs more to work out the merits of someone's claim than the cost of just paying them. Consider introduction of a citizen's income of this amount, that's taxable, with people able to claim more if they can show specific circumstances that mean they have an entitlement to and/or need for a higher amount.
- treat all adults as individuals, not as part of a couple (to reduce the disincentive to being a cohabiting couple if you're on a low income).
- provide careers advice to adults, as well as job hunting assistance.
- remove the link between benefits payment and job hunting assistance [ie. you can get help with job hunting even if you're not entitled to anything more than a nuisance value/citizen's income payment]
- rework the unemployment figures, with the specific intention of finding out how many people want work and are looking for it.
- lots of disincentives to own residential property that's not being used.
- incentives to build more property/regenerate brownfield sites.
- make better use of bits of the country that aren't London and the South East.
- better variety of tenancy options available, as well as assured short hold tenancies, with financial incentives for landlords to keep property in good repair and to offer longer length tenancies.
- reform system for buying and selling housing in England and Wales to reduce gazumping problem.
- financial incentives to increase the availability of affordable short stay housing (thinking of improving mobility of labour market, by making it easier for people to take jobs in different bits of the country).
- introduce much better consistency for children and teenagers about what they can do/are responsible for at different ages. [you can be convicted of murder at 10, the Family Court probably wouldn't be willing to listen to your evidence at the same age, you can marry at 16 but not vote till 18].
- extend the end of Year 11 to the end of the summer term (not last Friday in June) and add first aid to the curriculum and the Life in the UK test (+ ? other stuff).
- maybe introduce specific block courses for those of sixth form age who aren't in school or at college to provide specific teaching in budgeting, practical cooking (not food technology), home maintenance [including both housework and minor repairs and basic sewing]. Offer such courses within sixth forms to those present.
- maybe reduce voting age to 16.
5. Constitutional stuff
- disestablish the Church of England
- sort out the House of Lords (I can think of good arguments for it being a wholly appointed chamber, but with an independent appointments commission, rather than full of party-political nominees. Can also think of good arguments for it being elected)
- introduce Re-Open Nominations as an option in all elections
- consider different electoral systems (my preference is AV, but I don't know enough about them to be sure).
- Pass into English law the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and Rights of Disabled People.
- Introduce at least one more bank holiday
6. Law stuff
- Introduce non-fault divorce, without a 2 year waiting period
- Make pre-nuptial agreements compulsory [even if they say "we don't want to make plans now in case we separate, we'll take things as they fall at the time"]
- Rework birth certificates so they include (1) details of the providers of sperm/ovum and womb and (2) details of who the child's parents are in everyday life.
- Introduce an intermediate state between Special Guardianship and adoption, where the particular role of a Special Guardian can continue into adulthood
- Alter rules around adoption to make it no longer the case that all links to a child's birth family are extinguished. Adoption isn't a perfect solution and these children need all the help they can get. They should keep all rights arising from their relationship to birth relatives and acquire new ones with their adoptive family [though the rights of their birth relatives will necessarily be limited].
- Introduce a procedure to allow adults to declare themselves family members of each other, to provide legal/societal recognition of chosen family.
- Improve availability of legal aid
- Get the Law Commission working on tidying up bits of legislation that are messy that no one's had time to deal with for 80 years.
- Look at ways to direct people's pro-bono work into areas that aren't covered by legal aid - [not an expert in this, but there are gaps where there isn't public funding, but the main providers of pro-bono work aren't able to cover them]
- financial benefits to establishing community schools without a religious character
- abolish collective worship in schools
- make sure there is financial parity by way of student support between full time and part time study options in FE and HE.
- better funding for postgraduate study.
8. Consumer Protection
- increase the penalties for unsolicited phone calls and email from businesses.
- increase the penalties for junk mail.
- ban anti-consumer practices (like the apparent requirement from Sky for people to cancel contracts by telephone, which falls foul of the Equality Act anyway, but is fundamentally objectionable as a misuse of power by a business in dealings with individual customers, oh and the practice of retailers using couriers (who don't have collection points that are the equivalent of local delivery offices) rather than the Royal Mail without giving people the option to choose).
- require banks to staff call centres with people who are competent to advise customers, including a sufficient command of English to talk through the issues people call their banks about.
- introduce a minimum wage for 13-16 year olds.
- financial incentives to employers who offer flexible working practices [why shouldn't [most] people take an hour out during the working day to see their GP? I realise lots of job roles can't accommodate this, but those that can should be encouraged to, to reduce the demand for routine things to need to be done out of hours]
- general requirement to give [full time] employees two consecutive days off each week (with some exceptions where needed in particular fields & ability for employees to opt out), which should be Saturday and Sunday unless otherwise agreed (Jewish employees might prefer Friday and Saturday, others might prefer Monday and Tuesday).
- make it a criminal offence to shout/scream in public places without a reasonable excuse. Can't work out how to protect political speech, which is very important with the necessary cultural change to put an end to men thinking it's OK to shout at women in the street about their appearance etc.
- create a new protected characteristic called something like "size" or "body size" to prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of height and weight and other variations in body size/structure.
- create another new protected characteristic called "children" to prohibit discrimination against children except where there is reasonable justification for discriminating against children.
- extend the duty to make reasonable adjustments, which currently applies only to disability to include pregnancy and maternity and also body size and children and additionally to cover temporary disabilities.
- introduce temporary blue badges (for broken legs etc).
- introduce a *voluntary* national system for registering disability that leads to an ID card that someone could use to prove disability without necessarily having to disclose lots of personal information when that's not needed.
- improve availability of overnight childcare
- end the 'wars' on drugs and obesity. [no wars on abstract nouns ever again]
- decriminalise most drugs, introduce quality control and tax on sales. [willing to accept some drugs are too harmful to do that with, but think as many as possible should be legalised]
- improve the way the NHS deals with people with chronic and overlapping health conditions.
- better health education at school around caring for ill people - not talking here about first aid, though that's important, but about recognising that people can be ill and need care, but don't necessarily need to see a GP.
- check what behaviours are being incentivised with targets eg. targets to offer GP appts in 48 hours lead to surgeries not allowing people to book appts in advance and remove incentives that are counter productive to good health care.
- require the diet industry to publish failure rates [ie. sustainability of weight loss over a period of years]
- introduce a register of Advance Decisions
- provide voluntary parenting classes at an early stage (ie. you can go to one before anyone's suggested there's a problem with your parenting).
- Encourage it.
- Encourage the provision of English lessons to immigrants who don't speak English fluently.
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