Universal Basic Income

A universal basic income is an income paid to individuals, as a right of legal residence, without means testing or requirements to work. The payment is non taxable and should be sufficient to cover basic needs. Everyone who qualifies for the payment will receive it from birth till death. Having a basic income in place will provide a secure floor for people to build on rather than a safety net with holes so big many fall through.

The idea is not a new one, and many famous names have proposed it in the past. If you are interested in learning more there is an excellent page on the Basic Income Earth Network site which looks at the history of basic income.

Over the last two years especially there has been a huge swell of interest around the world in basic income. Switzerland will be voting in a referendum about it on 5 June. Pilots are being worked out in Finland, to start in the next two years or so. There is interest in pilots in 20 towns (and counting) in the Netherlands. The finance minister in Namibia is putting forward a basic income proposal as we speak, after a successful pilot of it in a town there a few years ago.

In the UK there have been various proposals for basic income being put forward from various groups and recently Caroline Lucas MP has put forward a Early Day Motion calling on the government to fund research into the practicalities.

Why the contribution is important

1) Basic Income will help us rethink how & why we work

A basic income can help you do other work and reconsider old choices: It will enable you to retrain, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have enough money to maintain a decent standard of living while you do. It will therefore help each of us to decide what it is we truly want to do.

2) Basic Income will contribute to better working conditions

With the insurance of having unconditional basic income as a safety net, workers can challenge their employers if they find their conditions of work unfair or degrading.

3) Basic Income will downsize bureaucracy

Because a basic income scheme is one of the most simple tax / benefits models, it will reduce all the bureaucracy surrounding the welfare state thus making it less complex and costly, while being fairer and more emancipatory.

4) Basic income will make benefit fraud obsolete

As an extension of (3), benefit fraud will vanish as a possibility because no one needs to commit fraud to get a basic income: it is granted automatically. Moreover, an unconditional basic income will fix the threshold and poverty trap effects induced by the current means-tested schemes.

5) Basic income will help reducing inequalities

A basic income is also a means for sharing out the wealth produced by a society to all people thereby reducing the growing inequalities across the world.

6) It will provide a more secure and substantial safety net for all people

Most existing means-tested anti-poverty schemes exclude people because of their complexity, or because people don’t even know how to apply or whether they qualify. With a basic income, people currently excluded from benefit allowances will automatically have their rights guaranteed.

7) Basic Income will contribute to less working hours and better distribution of jobs

With a basic income, people will have the option to reduce their working hours without sacrificing their income. They will therefore be able to spend more time doing other things they find meaningful. At the macroeconomic level, this will induce a better distribution of jobs because people reducing their hours will increase the jobs opportunities for those currently excluded from the labor market.

8) Basic Income will reward unpaid contributions

A huge number of unpaid activities are currently not recognized as economic contributions. Yet, our economy increasingly relies on these free contributions (think about wikipedia as well as the work parents do). A Basic Income would recognise and reward theses activities.

9) Basic Income will strengthen our Democracy

With a minimum level of security guaranteed to all citizens and less time in work or worrying about work, innovation in political, social, economic and technological terms would be a made more lively part of everyday life and its concerns.

10) Basic Income is a fair redistribution of technological advancement

Thanks to massive advancements in our technological and productive capacities the world of work is changing. Yet most of our wealth and technology is as a consequence of our ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’: We are wealthier not as a result of our own efforts and merits but those of our ancestors. Basic income is a way to civilize and redistribute the advantages of that on-going advancement.

and one more….

11) Basic Income will end extreme financial poverty

Because we live in a world where we have the means (and one hopes, the will) to end the kinds of suffering we see as a supposedly constant feature of our surroundings. Basic income is a way to join together the means and the will.

by Teddy on April 10, 2017 at 07:22PM

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Comments

  • Posted by ManxVoter April 11, 2017 at 09:35

    Excellent post!
  • Posted by LeanGreen April 11, 2017 at 10:34

    Yes let's get radical.
  • Posted by Sickandtired April 12, 2017 at 01:04

  • Posted by bindyk April 12, 2017 at 15:15

    How revolutionary is this fantastic idea?

    I don't think the Isle of Man is passionate enough about social equality to pilot it unfortunately.
  • Posted by OldSailor April 12, 2017 at 17:18

    Where is this money coming from? Is it the taxpayer? What is to incentivise someone to work if they are guaranteed an income by law? What is to incentivise someone to earn more than the universal basic income if they realise that the additional earnings will be taken off them in tax to pay for everyone else's universal income? Why are people trying to think of ways to increase the burden on taxpayers when this site is supposed to be about saving taxpayers £25 million a year?
  • Posted by Fairforall April 12, 2017 at 21:51

    Early days yet. We need to assess the outcome where this is being tried. It could well prove to be a successful way of reducing benefits.
  • Posted by madeleine April 16, 2017 at 09:49

    We are the ideal place to trial basic income, we are a discrete and small(ish) community with a democratic and 'well worn' government system emulated but not surpassed by the rest of the world. The level of universal Income can be set at such a level that reflects the current benefits level. Coupled with the introduction of a Health and Social care Card it will reduce the cost of running the Benefits system and of course Basic Income paid to those who are already in work can simply be reclaimed through the tax system. Fife in Scotland is going to trial the program perhaps the Government should liase with them. Presently, Health ad Social Care gobbles one third of all taxes raised and will increase at an unprecedented level unless we act now!
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