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Yesterday I attended the Green Party policy launch for Universal Basic Income.
Put simply, every adult would receive a minimum payment of £89 a week, unconditionally. Additional payments would go to those facing barriers to work, including disabled people and single parents. There would also be a higher rate for pensioners.
The idea is to provide a minimum level of financial security to ensure you at least have the basics covered. It’s clear that this doesn’t encourage unemployment or laziness. Most people would take the opportunity to train, or volunteer locally, and clearly this doesn’t cover the cost of anything else you might want to buy in life. This is just a safety net, designed to give people the much-needed flexibility to break the live-to-work, work-to-live cycle they might be facing.
UBI is designed to replace a whole range of benefits and the process that goes along with administering them (which means cost savings)
- Universal Credit
- State pension
- Pension credit
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credits
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
Additional payments would then be made for low-income families and people with disabilities. Anyone receiving Personal Independent Payments or Disability Living Allowance would receive at least the same rate after this change.
Why is this important?
- it’s a hammer blow to poverty and child poverty.
- The damaging, degrading and sometimes fatal Universal Credit will be ditched.
- Provides financial assistance to carers and volunteers whose contributions to society may not be visible.
- It is part of the Green Party’s solution to tackling climate change.
- Jobs are increasingly at risk due to automation, we need to re-think how we look at “unemployment” – Unemployment figures don’t tell the whole story.
A typical naysayer response to this proposal is that it has been trialled before, most recently in Finland, and failed. That while it didn’t create jobs, it made everyone happier. The obvious sarcastic conclusion to this is “of course they were happy, they got paid for doing nothing!”
But as always, the headlines mask the bigger picture. There is a great breakdown of the experiment in Finland, which you can read here.