Manifestos: People Before Profit

3 May 2022 Ryan Miller    Last updated: 3 May 2022

The manifesto series continues with People Before Profit. Will they return more than one MLA this time round? Read about their pitch to voters here.


People Before Profit (PB) is standing 12 candidates in the upcoming election.

Smaller parties – meaning those outside the big five – are generally more confident these days, and with good reason. The Assembly has 90 MLAs, six of whom are members of smaller parties or independents, and that number could conceivably double this election.

Whether PBP is able to gain more than one seat remains to be seen, but almost every party, big or small, has focused on Stormont dysfunction during their campaigns.

PBP is no different. The manifesto says things like “there is another way” and “there is a better way”. Their vision for this other way mixes together some post-sectarian community unity (they, like Alliance and the Greens, designate as Others) and some old-school socialism.

This is another uncosted manifesto – but everyone’s manifesto is uncosted. Some manifestos do have costs associated with some specific policies, but that’s misleading. Unless you’ve tied together all your policies with a bottom-line figure that is feasible, you’re not really costing your promises.

In the case of PBP, the list of commitments does not hold back: a direct payment of £1,000 to tackle the cost of living, including all but the top fifth of earners; emergency price controls on energy, food and fuel “where necessary”; a ban on higher tariffs for people using payment meters; privatise energy companies; rent controls; higher housing benefits; a £15 minimum wage; “inflation-busting pay rises for all workers”.

And that’s just page six.

Wish list

The party’s approach to poverty includes proposals for relatively modest welfare changes that would make the current system more sympathetic, including the removal of the five-wait wait for first payments, no repeat assessments for people with lifelong conditions, guaranteed rights for independent advice, and ending the sanctions system.

They want a new non-taxable weekly child payment for children aged 0-4 and those aged 5-15 who are in receipt of free school meals, extension of free-school meals support that includes holidays, expansion of Sure Start, better maternity pay and vastly improved childcare options.

Northern Ireland’s creaking healthcare system needs huge reform, and PBP identifies several problems as major issues – such as massive spending on agency workers, poor recruitment and retention of staff, long waiting lists and the lack of a mental health strategy.

They want care homes to be brought into public ownership, a Covid-19 inquiry, and for reduction in waiting lists to be a “priority”.

However, they oppose Bengoa-style reforms, framing these as “stepping stones to paving the way for breaking-up the NHS altogether”.

Workers’ rights are unsurprisingly a key part of PBP’s policies. They want to lower the floor for organising in-company unions (currently a business must have 21 employees before it can unionise, PBP want this number reduced to five), modernising union regulations, introduce a four-day working week.

They also want to “ban agency working”. No details (or caveats) are mentioned.

More policies

PBP says NI has a housing and homelessness crisis. It wants to establish a Rental Board “with responsibility to maintain minimum accommodation standards via accommodation inspectors, secure tenancy leases, register agreed rents, and reduce existing rents to below 2011 levels.”

They also want to cap rents at 20% of a tenant’s income and whenever there is “loss of or reduction in income by the tenant, rents to be revised downwards, the shortfall to be made up through the social welfare system.”

The party also says that a recent move by the Department for Communities to reclassify the Housing Executive will allow it to borrow money again – and, therefore, to build homes – but is ultimately just “privatisation in a fancy wrapper.”

Proposed education policies include “investment in integrated, non-selective education to provide a universal, accessible, lifelong education system”, improving teacher and classroom assistant numbers, pay rises for staff, and free school meals for all children.

Solutions to the climate crisis include support and upskilling packages for affected workers, an exclusively renewable energy strategy, opposition to water charges (this is a normal PBP policy, but it’s not entirely clear why this is in the climate section), and net zero by 2035.

PBP’s equality strategies include more support (and services) for LGBTQ people, minorities, and support for reproductive rights. They also back an Irish Language Act, as well as investment in Irish-medium education and youth services.

Speaking of youth services, the party wants to “abolish student fees and launch an inquiry into the student finance system and its impact on poverty”, expand apprenticeships through local councils, give everyone aged 16 and up the full minimum wage, allow 16-year-olds to vote, and provide “free Public Transport for those under 25 as a first step to abolishing transport fees.”

In a section titled “Brexit and Partition” they slam “the Tory vision of” Brexit (but not necessarily Brexit itself, as they don’t like “the burgeoning EU Empire” much either), reject any land border between North and South, namedrop James Connolly, say workers shouldn’t pay any costs of Brexit, and say they support a poll on reunification of Ireland.

Finally, PBP wants to “oppose war and welcome refugees”, a section that applies a both-sides disdain to both Russia and to Ukraine, whose desire to join Nato would only see them join the treaty organisation’s “imperialist endeavours across the world.”

Read People Before Profit’s manifesto here.

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