Posts Tagged ‘Philip Ross’

Garden cities are coming home

21/11/2012, 07:00:18 AM

by Philip Ross

Although most of the big society thinking seems to have been put to the back of the cupboard, one idea seems to have survived -the idea of community ownership of assets. Boris had a section in his manifesto about community land trusts and the first London one was set in Mile End in July. To be fair, he seemed to get it, but elsewhere the Tories have tried to implement a bastardised form of it, basically withdrawing council funding from assets and asking the communities to pay for things themselves. Not quite the same thing.

Community land trusts (CLT), like that setup in Mile End, are a good thing and derive from two great 20th century British land movements which are the co-operative and garden city movements. You may think of garden cities as being very conservative places with high house prices that David Cameron has praised and wants to see more of.

But when the garden city movement was founded it was anything but conservative. For instance Krupskaya reported that while Lenin was in exile in London he attended garden city meetings and even stayed for a while in Letchworth the first garden city.

He said “Ilyich would listen attentively, and afterwards say joyfully: ‘They are just bursting with socialism!”’. This is in part because the first garden city – Letchworth – had as its social foundation stone the concept that the whole town would be community owned e.g. a community land trust.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Practical policy for Labour from the Small Business Forum conference fringe

12/10/2012, 11:19:09 AM

by Philip Ross

The Labour Small Business Forum is a network of Labour members and supporters who work for themselves or in a small business. We recently held a fringe at Labour party conference with a simple goal: to not just to talk round the issues but highlight some practical proposals for the party for small business, proposed by small business.

We had the best SME line up at conference with around 50 people attending. After my introduction in which I stressed the importance of modernising the way we work and supporting emerging firms and freelance working, John Walker the national chairman of the Federation of Small Business picked up on comments about IR35.

This regulation, which means freelancers who work for one client are treated as an employee for tax purposes, despite not having the same rights as an employee, has long been an issue for contractors.

John agreed that it was a complicated and unwieldy tax that has not been resolved and was a bar for going into business. He went on to reiterate the familiar problems that small businesses have with getting hold of finance from the banks. Confidence in financial institutions is a problem and he made reference to the mis-selling of interest rate swaps to many of his members.

As a policy call he suggested that it was hard for small firms to initially grow and take on people and backed an NI holiday for firms that did this, in line with the party’s policy.

He was followed by Dr Jo Twist of the UKIE (the trade association for the UK’s games industry), her points neatly dovetailed with his as she talked about the phenomena of crowd-funding which was a way that investors could lend to companies directly using the internet as a platform and thereby circumnavigating the banks.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon