The Green Party believes that wellbeing and Quality of Life (rather than economic growth) should be the focus of policy at all levels. A large amount of wealth is generated in Cambridge but it does not benefit everyone, driving inequality both nationally and at the local scale. Even within Cambridge there is a wide gap between the most and least well-off wards in terms of factors like life expectancy and rates of childhood obesity.
Further economic growth is not the answer. Contemporary Cambridge has experienced very fast growth in housing supply but this hasn’t made homes any more affordable, with the average house price now exceeding half a million pounds. Too many people are living under the stress of insecure housing. Rough sleeping is the most visible but not the only form of homelessness. Young people in particular may be trapped in expensive and unsuitable rented accommodation or slip into ‘hidden homelessness’ such as sofa surfing. As a result of national policy, the provision of ‘affordable housing’ is woefully inadequate, both in terms of what proportion of housing is allocated as ‘affordable’ and whether it is actually affordable for the majority of people. We need a large increase in council-owned and managed secure rented property backed up by community ownership cooperatives, housing associations and co-housing projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has widened pre-existing gaps in our society, but has also shone a light on the incredible resilience of local groups and organisations to support one another in a time of need.