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.

96 Comments

  1. Kristiina Mauritzson

    I support this with my whole heart, Today there are so many ways to give social support to people, unembloyment money , pensions,  social security money, sickness money and so on, How much easier and cheaper to have basic income could be!!! So many unecessary institutions would just vanish, even there we could save a lot  of money, People would be more happier and also willing to do jobbs unpaid that needs to be done anyway,
    Good luck with this !!

    1. Jeanette devereux

      Yes unfortunately our dense government is ignoring ubi. Punishing us for getting older, sicker and unemployment are facts of life!…..only answer 2 all our problems.:-)

  2. Lee

    I recieve Jobseekers Allowance at present.  I have just come through 2 years on the Work Programme. I’m 50, male & live in an economically deprived area. However, I’m Net-savvy, degree-educated & work for a local charity as a retail assistant.  I also film bands live & have other artistic pursuits.

     I just want to be left alone but I can’t see the UK economic/political character changing without a serious revolutionary upheaval, involving the eradication of the whole traditional London/Eton/Oxbridge axis.  If the UK regime can’t handle Schengen or the social aspects of the EU Social Chapter. I find it hard to imagine them even considering something as radical as a universal, unconditional income. I am speaking as a supporter of both this initiative & the EU.

     I know a thing or two about the conditions I live with as a claimant & they are something from a Stalinist manual.  You now must register on the government’s site & record daily jobsearch-activities.  Should the capos decide you have’nt done enough you can be sanctioned. You now must do 2 hours a day looking for a job/jobsearch activity , with Ian Duncan Smith – the chief capo in all this- now talking of placing JSA claimants  ‘under supervision’ at the Jobcentre for 35 hours a week

    I wish you good luck in your campaign but I feel it’s too late for me.  I am seeking a way out of the UK right now.

    1. David Jenkins

      Hello Lee,
      Yes it is a very tough time for a great many people and I wish you all the best in whatever you end up doing. The petition at basicincome2013.eu has the advantage of being a continental civil society movement aimed, much as has been the case with the referendum in Switzerland, to force the case through democracy, to get this thing on the agenda and move us onto the front foot. Neo-liberals have always been very good at barking there is no alternative. This is the way to show these types that there most definitely is a way to do things: what is the point of progress if it only locks us into an ever smaller range of possibilities? The process will be long, complex and experimental… But there is, as there always has to be on the left, hope.
      Again, I wish you all the best Lee and hope something turns up soon for you
      David

    2. Roy

      Hi Lee,
      I can understand your position. I am of your generation and my background is also from a UK economically deprived city area. I found work (minimum income jobs) in an area of the UK I loved for the landscape before moving abroad 11yrs ago to another rural landscape. It’s still a real struggle to make ends meet, pay the rent etc. 
      Basic income might not be for our generation but I still have hope that it will be – maybe at least for our pension yrs. I think its a question of media coverage and UBI is starting to make inroads here. There has been articles in the Financial Times, the Economist, Guardian, Huffington Post etc. Also, perhaps one of the more significant area of support was when the Trade Unions in Bulgaria supported and enabled that country to reach its signature quota. I hope other European Trade Unions might support the next big EU petition for it. We’ll see, but it will take something big like that to shake the apathy that seems to exist in the UK.
      Best of luck,
       

    3. LeftwingPoet

      You are not obliged to sign up to their website it is not something they can enforce, but they do not tell you that, they advise that you NEED to not that you must.
      I suggest you tell them you are going to UN-register as you have problems with the site (tell them you got a virus from a link they cannot disprove it) Then provide your own search list of companies who you have applied to. The DWP cannot check this as any company approached would be in breach of the data portection act were they to disclose

    1. David Jenkins

      Hi Ann,
      We think so, too! If you haven’t already, please sign the petition at basicincome2013.eu… We’re desperately trying to drum up as many signatures as possible so please pass the message onto as many people as you can!
      Thanks
      David

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  4. Peter

    I think that the UBI is a really interesting and I shall add my name to the petition at basicincome2013.eu. Unfortunately, in my 50 odd years I can’t think of any occasion when the great British public has voted FOR something. 

    The only way to make a UBI a reality here would be to provide a narrative giving people something or some group they can vote against. Sadly it already seems inevitable that they will vote against the EU and by pointing people towards the EU petition you are associating your campaign to a toxic brand.  

        1. David Jenkins

          Well a number of responses. 1) I am not any means-tested benefit at the moment and I support UBI. 2) All people benefit from state support. Infrastructure, education, healthcare as well as (what I assume you allude to) social security (2.3 % of which goes to the unemployed, in case you were wondering). Now in most sensible people’s eyes such expenditure should be described as investments in which case unconditional basic income is another way of developing the capacities and aspirations of a population. To consider public spending as nothing but a drain is to miss some pretty enormous empirical truths about how wealth is generated, maintained and civilised.

  5. Tim Pott

    I like the principles behind BI however I am looking but not finding specifics of how you envisage this working in the UK. I expect you often get asked these questions so how about a FAQ page?

    1. How much per month would you consider to be a fair basic income/month. Would this vary across the UK depending on varying costs of living or would you keep at one flat rate to encourage people to move to cheaper areas of the country?
    2. Would this be a truly universal income for every citizen say from 18 years old till death and hence replacing all state benefits including state pension? OR
    3. Would eligibility for BI be dependent on earnings? – I assume corrupt greedy bankers on excessive salaries and bonuses would not be eligible? Would you therefore have a cut off salary rate above which BI would not be paid?
    4. Has this been fully costed for the UK? I appreciate savings can be made by scrapping benefits system with BI, but is this likely to raise enough? Where would the funds come from? Slash the defence budget? Tax rich more?

    1. David Jenkins

      These are all.questions.that are up for grabs. Indeed, one of the hopes.behind.getting the petition signed is that it’ll help settle some.of.these issues.and.provide a better sense of what can be done toward practically.implementing such a policy.

      One thing.I.can say for.sure is that everyone.would.get the income regardless.of other income. There would be no.cut off point. And it would be a single level.for all those who are eligible. Of.course other benefits.might be available to those with.more complex.needs.

      Other ways of funding.could be a land value tax, luxury consumption.tax, closing.of.corporate.loopholes and taxes.on.financial transactions.

      1. John Burman

        Read this in Zero Hedge blog 

        CEO Hikes Minimum Wage To $70K, Capitalist Tragicomedy Ensues
        Tyler Durden’s pictureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/02/2015 23:45 -0400

        It illustrates that people have a strong sense of what is fair as a reward and don’t like the idea of a one size fits all.

    2. Paul Warren

      If I may add to this?

      Part of the brilliance of UBI is that it eliminates the need to do admin to decide who gets it and how much. Every adult citizen gets the same. No need to report changes in family circumstances or short spells of employment or sickness. It’s recently been calculated that the DWP has to process 1.8 million changes in benefit claim status each month, which is horribly complex and expensive, and they can’t cope. Under UBI the form would be filled in once when you reach 18, and there would be 3 boxes:
      • name and signature
      • national insurance number
      • bank account number and sort code

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  8. steven glasgow mitchell

    I was on the dole last year and was only entitled to six month contribution based then they said i wasnt able to claim any thing else :( and with 2 kids and a partner to help support

    1. David Jenkins

      Hello Steven,
      Yes this is a very difficult time for a lot of people something this government seems unable to confront. I hope the situation has – or will – resolve itself in some way for you.
      Also, if you’d ever like to contribute a piece for the website, perhaps giving an account of your experiences, it would offer a different and interesting perspective to our other articles.
      All the best anyway,
      David

  9. Joanna Bryson

    Hi — I like Tim Pott am interested in the approach but curious to know more details. Surely someone must have worked out the economics? I’m not sure I buy all the statements here, for example surely many people already work longer hours than needed not to make ends meet but because they enjoy their jobs or want more money for whatever reason.

    The great thing about basic income is it provides support while at the same time motivating work, but then how can we be sure we can have a sustainable basic income level that will pay housing prices in the UK — won’t those then come up even further? So it must include the motivation to move to less-populated & less-expensive areas if you do not intend to work beyond your basic income? Would it require raising the tax rate or could the efficiencies over the present welfare system maintain something like the current tax rate? Surely because it is distributed so much more widely we’d need to increase the tax rate? And this would have to be on transactions, since if it were on production the producers would move abroad?

    I agree this becomes more important as technology provides more wealth.

    1. David Jenkins

      There a number of proposals regarding the economics of it. Citizen’s Income would be one place to look. They believe there is a way to retain current tax structures and fund the income through what amounts essentially to a restructuring of the tax code and savings because of elimination of bureaucracy and surveillance etc. I have my doubts and think additional taxes like an LTV would have benefits aside from the provision of UBI. The risk of capital flight… indeed: that is one reason for the initiative to go European-wide. To leave the whole market behind would not be financially viable for companies… and, in all honesty, this argument relies on something like the kidnapper’s argument (‘give us what we want, or else!) – while it’s a risk, international capital flows are never going to be directed to anything like the common good until we stand up to them.

      On the point about jobs – people are not stopped from working longer hours or enjoying their jobs. But some jobs are neither engaging nor rewarding and 40 hours a week doing them, in a lot of people’s eyes, should be something increased efficiency should be designed to reduce.

      I agree regarding motivations of reciprocity and community engagement – but think it is important to recognise the enormous amount of contributions going unpaid and the enormous amount of potential for efforts that do not need payment in order to be rewarded but still require cash in order to be supported.
      Finally, UBI will not solve all a society’s problems. The housing crisis for example needs massive investment in government stock as well as a curb on Buy to Let rentiers. Under investment in other parts of the country is also something BI can’t fix on its own.

      You point to inflation as a problem – this is more troublesome. However, measures currently exist to control inflation and the same argument was used to curb credit and minimum wage… This would be a matter for economist’s and as yet there doesn’t seem to be a knockdown argument on either side.
      I’ll say this, though: given that unemployment is often used rationalised as a tool for keeping inflation down (See Paolo Rodrigues’ article on the website) it is line with civilizing the condition of under and unemployment that we eliminate the abominable sanctions currently going on against those in such a position. A certain amount of inflation might be a price we have to pay for justice.

    1. David Jenkins

      Well given that the UBI would be at a level that ensures reasonable standards of living, I’d have to disagree with you there. JSA is appallingly low and so they would undoubtedly benefit. As for housing, given that benefits are currently lining the pockets of Buy-to-Rentiers I’d suggest something far more substantive needs to be done to make sure what we have is a welfare system and not a tax-credit-for-the-wealthy system.
      Sanctions would also end so again the vulnerable are being protected. Additional help is not off the cards simply because a UBI is introduced. Those who need on-going and constant attention would get it.
      As for people who are currently wealthy getting it- 2 things. 1) solidarity – it expresses a belief that this is a human right and thus available to all 2) there are an increasing number of people hovering near precarity – flexible labour markets, underemployment etc. – having UBI enables long-term planning and security in the face of the new political economy.
      Hopefully that answers some of your questions

  10. jon

    This is a UK website, asking for UK and European support for this idea.

    So why “labor” “civilize” etc?

    I am not interested in reading American prose thank you.

    An insult!

  11. Arun

     £100 a week for every adult , in or out of work , rich or poor , to be paid for by reducing the personal tax allowance to say £5000 a year. 

    Limit child benefits to two at any one time. 
    Scholarship of £50 a month to all children who get 50% average in ten subjects in yearly exams so they get motivated. 

    Billions saved in admin costs handing out dole reinvested in education. 

    Then every extra pound earnt would net at least 70p. 

    1. sam

      The proposal is a guaranteed income for EVERYONE. It does not exclude under 18s.

      If you make exceptions or conditions or lower amounts for even one group not only is this unfair it defeats the point of a guaranteed income and could provide the start of reasoning which later sees income taken away fr other groups.

      1. David Jenkins

        An interesting point – could take a different form for children i suppose: bonds, for example, that are released on maturity (at say 15, 16) – a check on parental misuse or perverse incentive effects. But i think, more generally, this issue surrounding unconditionality is absolutely crucial and is, ironically, also where the question of national borders – i.e. a condition of membership to a state which adopts UBI – gets so troubling: How can the violence sustained by borders be rendered legitimate when we are interested in seeing the meeting of unconditional rights? It introduces a level of contingency into a situation where I don’t really think it can be justified – for reasons other than the purely instrumental… I don’t think borders can be justified but I am not sure what this means for the establishing of any feasible distributive proposal.

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  13. Annette

    Like the idea, there was a Scandinavian politician who juggled that idea back in the 1970s. BUT, how to figure out what the basic income should be? I am sorry, I just don’t believe that an area as bureaucratic and filled with people who are used to receiving ONLY, can do this. Plus, will such a system not just attract those who don’t want to work? Should anyone entering an EU country be entitled to this? Should there be a difference if you are very sick? Old and alone? etc. – NO even something which sounds simple will soon become a bureaucratic mess – and where is the money to come from? The ones who are already working too much and paying extreme amounts of taxes?
    Cut all welfare and replace it with this sounds good, and cheap, but how can this be done with the enormous public administrations in Europe? are these people to be fired and put on Basic Income?

    Like the idea, but doubt it could be done and fear it will only result in a large group of people not bothering to get off their behinds and contributing to society – NB look at the Nordic countries where welfare is really high: they import people to do the jobs the eg Danes don’t want to do, because they have enough one welfare to not want to work. Ideas like these are based on the idea that all people DO WANT TO PARTICIPATE – and they don’t …

    So, in theory good idea, but how is this truly possible?

    1. Alex

      Why would people be less likely to work with a universal income and a marginal tax rate of, say, 50% (so if you earn £100, you keep £50) vs the current system where low earners normally face either 85% marginal tax rate (keep £15) from CTS / HB withdrawal, or 96% marginal tax rate (NI contributions), or 100% marginal tax rate (eg: if your partner is on income related ESA, then you keep £20 a week and nothing more, up to about £200 a week)?

      Plus, if employees were not shit scared of not having a job, they would get better working conditions. Overall a few less people might work, but that’s actually probably a good thing economically speaking. Particularly as with people more motivated to work (if they really hated their job, they probably wouldn’t be doing it), productivity would go up.

      TL;DR:

      Current system: Earn £100, keep £15. Likely to be exploited.
      Universal income: Earn £100, keep £50. Less likely to be exploited.

    1. David Jenkins

      That’d make a good article actually, Matthew. I think it comes out at 40,000/year per prisoner. In Houston they worked out that certain areas of the city were costing $1,000,000/block in taxpayers money to jail residents. They decided instead of waiting for the crimes to be committed and then spending that money to put the 1 million up front as investment in deprived areas… UBI would basically work on the same principle except claimants/citizens would be in the driving seat.

  14. Alan Wheatley — aka Swheatie

    Considering how to promote the concept of ‘unconditional basic income’ on a placard, as placards require great economy of lettering, at first I thought of
    WE CALL FOR
    ‘NO STRINGS
    ATTACHED’
    BASIC INCOME

    But then, in view of the amount of excessive bullying that goes on these days with ‘Jobseekers Agreement’ stuff regarding how many jobs a claimant has to apply for per week so as not to get sanctioned, I thought a much more apt statement would be
    WE CALL FOR
    ‘NO NOOSE
    ATTACHED’
    BASIC INCOME

    1. David Jenkins

      I like that a lot… a problem might be that people have to make the connection between conditions/strings/noose without having necessarily had all those thoughts prior to reading the slogan.. But with the right image it’d have a lot of impact. Cheers Alan!

  15. Dan

    I think BI will happen its just a case of how quickly, technology will force it to happen eventually. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/22/robots-google-ray-kurzweil-terminator-singularity-artificial-intelligence.
    With google planning on replacing the service industry and care industry with robots, driverless cars aren’t far away and amazon about to start using to drones to deliver parcles thats a lot of jobs taken away from humans.

    I think if you want BI in less than 15-20 years then it need fleshing out properly, if its a case of cost of working it out then maybe crowd funding could pay for the working out of the economics.

    Theres just so much this would effect for example: lets suppose everyone get 15k per annum if you were in a 13k per annum job before you’ve just gained 2k without having to work. I can’t see there being enough money in the tax system for you to get both the 13k and the 15k so the employer now pay’s you say £2-3 hour to encourage you to work. So your wage has gone from around £6.5 to around £9.5 by switching to this system and the employer is now paying less in wages. This of course will probably mean the employer is going to be paying more taxes to offset this. But in this scenario what happens when you have someone move here from another country do they automatically get the 15K? if so won’t they then flood here. If they don’t then when they get a job here they only get the £2-3 hour that employer is paying so something else would need to be setup for immigrants.

    Anyway enough of my waffle a good flashing out of this would make the world of differance to getting it implamented so people could see how the changes would effect them and improve the system.

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  19. Robert

    Hi,I am from Poland and I live in Poland.I was practising a proffesion in food factory.When I employed there there was a production line.Work on this line was reling on taking a container with salt sticks and putting in into packaging.This kind of work was usually made by womans because its light.One day the robot replaced womans,and was making this job instead of them.Only one educated man was enough to control this robot(does it work properly,what to do when it works incorrectly,etc)Process of robotization will be progressing,making more people unemployed.I suppose that Unconditional Income is good solution,if not the only.

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  21. richard sibley

    Let’s all focus on: ‘More Money For Me’

    A simple campaign, which everyone can should find relates to themselves.

    Calling for (by huge simple public pressure): a) Removal of taxation – to be replaced with a tiny levy on financial transactions  b) A Basic/Citizen’s Income for each of us  c) Free local currencies for each county in England and Wales.

    Anyone interested, can go to: http://www.lifecentrestage.wordpress.com where a joined-up set of actions can be read, looked at and listened to.

    What is needed, is ‘us’ changing how we each do ‘things’ – not waiting for others to change things for us.

    Best wishes to you all.  Richard Sibley

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  24. Kayleigh

    I reckon the cost of the NHS would decrease massively – less work-related stress and no more needing to get a doctors note when you’re sick because employers don’t trust people (less appointments). Trust will increase massively because people won’t have to work to eat and we’ll be able to bring up problems at work without fear of losing jobs. 

    1. basicincome

      It can’t be, at least if it is not paid from issuing money, like QE. We think basic income should come out of fairer taxes on unearned income, or anything which can be defined as ‘economic rent’ – rent above what it costs to manage property, corporate profit taxes, financial transaction taxes, inheritance, copyright and patent proceeds above a reasonable level. People still got rich in the 1950s, and 60s when higher taxes on unearned income were in place.

  25. Paul

    Just signed the latest petition. I’m a skilled worker, but suffering depression and can’t jump through the necessary hoops to gain & maintain employment, or claim benefits. I have money to continue rotting away for maybe 2 years. Ain’t life grand.

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  28. Claire

    Surely companies will be bringing more money into the company if everyone is getting that money so it’s extra money that will go back into the system. Then you have the cost of administration lowering because once it’s set up there won’t be lots of issues to deal with. People still want to work and there are people on benefits currently so there’s not a massive extra on what’s already going out. As other’s have said there’ll be savings on health, the prison service etc. Less need for funded childcare. 

    The only costs we’re going to have to consider is the cost of setting it up. 

    1. David Jenkins

      Cost of administration would certainly be lowered, but it’s worthwhile thinking just how expensive a UBI is going to be – in purely monetary terms: not having it is also hugely expensive in monetary and various other terms.
      For example, if everyone in the UK got (say) £12,000 tomorrow it’d cost around £780,000,000,000. A European Tobin Tax (0.1% tax on financial transactions) would raise about £10/person. The prison budget is around 4 billion year, the NHS around 133 billion.
      I think the correct response then is to accept it is going to be expensive and then to ask ‘so what?’.

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    1. Sophie

      What’s to stop you doing this with the current system? After all the basic info you need to claim – an NI number and some form of ID – presumably wouldn’t change, and we already have laws against identify fraud… 

      1. David Jenkins

        what you say is true, Sophie i.e. that fraud of this kind is possible today, but the argument that introducing UBI will entirely cut out all surveilling bureaucracy has to be qualified because something like a bureaucracy will be needed to make sure this kind of fraud doesn’t happen or at least track it down when it does. Again, the costs would be very small but they remain costs.

    2. Stewart Dunbar

      Why would you wish to fraud the system? 
      The whole concept disincentivises fraud and crime, if we are all truly on the same level playing field it reduces the need to be a criminal as all basic living expenses are covered.
      Yes there will always be criminals that is the nature of greed, but what there won’t be are the low levels of criminality we have in society now, petty theft, shoplifting etc.
      We read of the “grand crimes” in our news media, but if you look at the Court lists for any court house in the UK you will find thousands of prosecutions for the most petty yet invidious offences. Benefit Fraud would end overnight.

      1. David Jenkins

        Yes, you would hope that fraud (already a very marginal problem) would decrease – along w/ most other crimes – but there might still remain a very small minority that wants to abuse the system – this could be fixed with technological solutions, but the point this guy was making was only that something like a bureaucracy *might* need to exist to make sure it doesn’t happen. Disincentives do not necessarily entirely flush out counter-incentives.

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  35. Xaras VII

    I love the idea of UBI. My mother had a stroke a few years ago, she has good days and bad days, somedays she cannot get up without aid, she can make tea —- but breaks a few cups in the process, she can walk 100m but needs to take a breather half way along. She gets tired quickly and naps 3-4 times during the day but the powers the be say she should get a job ( I have my own business I cannot employ here) all ecause she does not know how to “play the system”.

    Under this system of UBI everyone decides for themselves whether they are fit enough to work Under this system there would be no debate of is it better to sit on benifits or get a job — everyone will be better off working. Some may sit an their ass and not work but I believe most would still work and a lot of those out of work because they are better off doint that than getting ajob would now be able to work. However can Britain support such a system? realistically I cannot see anyone living on less than £800 per month at a push – that’s £200 per week which is about 10,000 per year. The government spends £159bn on benefits, 75bn on pensions (total 234bn) there are 49 million adults in the UK which means that each would be able to receive £4770 per year – which is nowhere near enough to live on. Where can we find more detail on how it would all be paid for?

    1. David Jenkins

      That sounds like a very difficult situation – thanks for posting and sharing. (And i totally agree with you w/r/t ass-sitting – most people want to work and contribute. Any aversion to overly boring work is probably nothing more than a sign of good sense.)

      also as to costs – you’re right, it’ll be expensive. But it’s important not to see it as a sink into which money will be flushed. A comprehensive welfare system is in fact a boon to the economy, and – when coupled with appropriate and necessary reforms – will SAVE money (although perhaps not in net-terms, i.e. it’ll still be more expensive than current expenditure – but then so what? Justice costs that much: look at Norway’s spending patterns). Think of the 4 billion spent on prisons, the 133 billion spent on health care – one would expect the kinds of improvements a UBI would precipitate could help reduce these costs (again, where appropriate reforms a la Scandinavia are also included such savings would be even more substantial).

      Also, those 159 bn benefits include housing benefit (16 bn). The only reason this costs so much is because of a housing system that is broken – rent caps/house building/ ending of propping up the demand side by govt would reduce these costs. (also i think pensions are actually included within that 159bn – if we’re looking at same figures).

      as for funding schemes – citizen income is a place to look. There is also a book coming out – some time soon(ish) – by Van Parijs and Vanderborght which has a lot more detail and talks about a European VAT (if only to start the ball rolling – they anticipate the need for increments).

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  37. Alice

    A basic income guarantee sounds great if like myself and my partner we get this as a Brucey Bonus. It would take the worry out of things like ‘pay to stay’ which will hit us hard under current conditions. But what about the single parents, unemployed, disabled and the elderly? How would they pay rent and council tax out of that? Those 2 things alone would be even more unaffordable under this scheme unless they were subsidised separately. In all the information I’ve seen on this I have seen nothing at all on how housing will be paid for. It’s a good idea in theory but I could never vote for it without knowing that first of all it would guarantee no one in the UK would face the prospect of homelessness again.

    1. David Jenkins

      absolutely – if it doesn’t improve the conditions of the worse off it wouldn’t be worthwhile bringing in. And the truth is, it cannot be a silver bullet. In London, for example, housing costs are enormous. To combat that you would need price caps, house building and more social provision. That way you bring it within the range of affordability toward which a basic income can then contribute. But where additional provision is required it needs to be provided – Disability living allowance currently sits at around £12.57bn. That could, theoretically, be protected.
      Politically speaking i suppose the question is which party would you trust to take the necessary additional policy initiatives, implement and guarantee those imperatives in the event of UBI being introduced.

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  39. J

    Perhaps the only way that this becomes a realistic prospect is if there is a societal shift away from consumerism and materialism. That comes if there is a distinct change in the objective of a society away from GDP as the focus of our society to a focus on fulfilment or self actualisation, on happiness, health and purpose. That will require a restructuring of education systems – (away from factory style of passing exams as the aim, to creating rounded individuals – competent in fundamental education, critical thinking and reasoning for example – with the capabilities to navigate their way in life reducing the possibility of suffering where possible and maximising the potential for happiness as well as purpose) that is only likely to come from a change in the political system. These things are complex but they are doable. I feel the order in which they are pursued may be crucial to success.
    It may well be a necessary development of societies that’s just too far outside the window of possibility. How do we move the window? Little by little, nudge after nudge ?

  40. Michelle H

    I may be missing the point completely here but can someone please clarify for me.

    I currently work full time for around £20k per annum.

    If the UBI was bought in, would I get that as well as my wages or would my wages be reduced?

    1. David Jenkins

      So the answer to this question is, as w/ so many things, it depends. If we assume those earning 20k will not be taxed any more than they currently are, and that the introduction of BI won’t affect your present wage-level, then essentially the UBI becomes a wage top up. Of course then there’s the potential for the change in the price of goods, so that might effect the purchasing power of 20K + UBI.

      But there is basically no direct, intentional connection that’ll be made between your wages and UBI.

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  47. p hussain

    Part of the brilliance of UBI is that it eliminates the need to do admin to decide who gets it and how much. Every adult citizen gets the same. No need to report changes in family circumstances or short spells of employment or sickness. It’s recently been calculated that the DWP has to process 1.8 million changes in benefit claim status each month, which is horribly complex and expensive, and they can’t cope. Under UBI the form would be filled in once when you reach 18, and there would be 3 boxes:
    • name and signature
    • national insurance number
    • bank account number and sort code

  48. Mira

    I think the UBI is a wonderful idea for the most part, but there’s still once aspect that I’m confused about: how would undesirable-yet-necessary jobs be filled? Would they be carried out by the community on some kind of part-time rota basis? Or would they carry some kind of extra incentive to attract people to them? I think the idea of allowing people the freedom to ‘decide what they truly want to do’ is very admirable, but at the same time, we also have to think about what work truly NEEDS to be done…

    1. David Jenkins

      so this is something that would be up for grabs – the necessary and undesirable work might be divided up, sure (and Andre Gorz proposes something like this) but the wage associated with such work might also increase in order to attract the necessary workers. What UBI has the potential to prevent is performing shitty work because they have no other option. any work that needs to be done has to take this as a given w/in lives of the (potential) worker.

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