Tag Archives: welfare

Is the Basic Income Guarantee an idea whose time has come?

Way back when I was first involved in politics, the ideas that everyone should have a basic income and that tax and national insurance should be integrated were mainstream SDP/Liberal Alliance ideas.

The Greens have in recent years been the only party to advocate such a change but during the General Election, Natalie Bennett was unable to convince people that it was affordable.

This week, think-tank Reform Scotland has come up with a costed scheme to give every adult a basic income of £100 per week and every child £50. The authors, Liberal Democrat Siobhan Mathers and Scottish Green candidate James Mackenzie, acknowledge that there would be a cost, around £2 billion in Scotland, £12 billion across the whole UK and that personal taxation rates would have to rise by about 8%, but that nobody earning under £26,000 a year would be worse off. However, with 2 children, a £100k household would be over £1200 a year better off

It’s certainly radical, with those on lowest incomes gaining and those on £100,000 without children being around £2,200 a year worse off, but isn’t that what a progressive tax system is supposed to do? There is a question, though, around whether a £100k household needs to be mae £1200 a year better off courtesy of the state.

The report argues that there are seven big advantages of such a scheme:

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Work is “like health treatment” says Iain Duncan-Smith

Iain Duncan SmithThe Gainsborough Standard reports:

Iain Duncan Smith has defended plans to get the sick and disabled back to work amid allegations that he is “punishing” society’s most vulnerable.

The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted being employed was like a “health treatment” and could help make people better.

He also denied that he had a target of taking a million disabled people off benefits, arguing it was sensible to ask whether individuals could do some work rather than writing them off altogether.

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Have SNP abandoned their plans to reverse welfare reforms?

Nicola Sturgeon gave a speech on tackling poverty today. In it, there is much that I think many Liberal Democrats could agree with.

The First Minister announced that SNP MPs will use their influence after May’s election to:

·  Push for child tax credits and child benefit to be uprated instead of frozen as the Conservatives plan.

·  Promote action that supports in-work families by calling for an increase in the minimum wage to £8.70 by the end of the next parliament.

·  Support an increase in the work allowance – helping those in work benefit from their earnings.

·  Deliver an end to austerity and oppose the renewal of nuclear weapons to help fund a further expansion of childcare.

·  The SNP Government has already extended free childcare provision to 600 hours and has pledged that if re-elected at the next Holyrood election, childcare provision will be extended further still to 1,140 hours per year.

We’ll gloss over the fact that the SNP had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide better childcare for the poorest 2 year olds. In England, Nick Clegg has made sure that 40% of the poorest 2 year olds get nursery education to give them the best chance in life. It took a persistent and tenacious campaign by Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats before the SNP expanded Scottish provision.

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Deserving of more than a footnote: George Watson and The Unservile State

The Unservile StateThe announcement that the Cambridge academic George Watson had left the Liberal Democrats £950,000 in his will was one of the most surprising political stories of 2014.

George Watson was a distinguished literary scholar and a lifelong Liberal. After working for the European Commission as a translator and interpreter during the 1950s he became a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1961 and remained there until he retired in 1990. As a scholar, he was known for serious bibliographical work, spirited polemics, and a traditional approach to literary criticism. He also made two forays into electoral politics, contesting Cheltenham in 1959 and Leicester in the 1979 European Election.

Watson is perhaps best remembered by Liberal Democrats, however, as the editor of The Unservile State – a 1957 volume billed as ‘the first full-scale study of the attitudes and policies of contemporary British Liberalism since the famous Yellow Book’ of 1928.

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Tory welfare plans are anathema to Liberal Democrats. We should not miss any opportunity to condemn them

I suspect most Liberal Democrats will have what we in Scotland call “the dry boak”when they watched Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne outlining plans to impose even more cuts on those people who can least afford to take the hit. A two year freeze for those who have least, including those who are working. Restricting benefits for young people. The benefits cap was a bad idea in the first place, but reducing it further is really wrong. But by far the most egregious of the measures announced yesterday was Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to introduce benefit cards instead of cash to bank accounts. Talk about illiberal. Talk about creating stigma.

What is very clear is that all these things would be being done now if the Liberal Democrats were not there to stop them. It’s a horrible glimpse into single party Tory rule. We can’t subject people to that.

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A bit of a howler in the Tories’ press lines…

Sky News have managed to get hold of a Tory briefing document which gives its MPs and media spokespeople the messages they want to emerge from their Conference. It was drawn up in the wake of the Reckless defection and Newmark resignation. Things drawn up in haste can often cause more problems than they resolve and this is no exception. Take, for example, the bit where they say that they are not stating red lines in coalition negotiations before, er, stating one:

Q. Is policy X a red line for future coalition negotiations?

A. We’re not going to answer hypothetical questions about red lines for coalition negotiations. Our aim is to win an outright majority at the next election so we secure a better future for Britain and that’s what we’re working towards.

Q. But what about your Europe referendum? You’ve said that’s a red line?

A. As our commitment to have a referendum would have to be fulfilled by a specific date after the next election, we think it is right in this one instance to confirm it’s a red line.

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Opinion: 19th September – now what?

imageLooking ahead: It’s 19th September, and Scotland has voted “No” to independence. Thank goodness for that! The uncertainty is over. The people of Scotland will continue to have their say in how the whole of Britain is run; will still use the pound (and still have their say in how it is managed); will, without the need for difficult negotiations, still be part of the EU and still have the whole of NATO ready to protect it; will still be both British and Scottish, without having to choose one or other; will still have representation on the UN security council. And the Union will not have to endure the pain of partition – which a century of evidence from countries like Yugoslavia, Sudan, India and even Ireland tells us can be very great indeed.

The Union has survived, but it was close, and there’s still a problem. Nearly half of Scotland’s population is so unhappy with the way that it is governed that it was willing to turn its back on the benefits of being part of a long-lasting and successful union. Clearly something needs to change, if this widespread discontent is to be contained.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTim13 8th Feb - 2:13pm
    Lorenzo Not quite sure what you read of Robert's article, but I think he is saying that the approach of British Government is what needs...
  • User AvatarLorenzo 8th Feb - 1:45pm
    P.S. Where are the women on LDV , especially on such a topic , we need more ?!
  • User AvatarLorenzo 8th Feb - 1:42pm
    Helen , David , very good all , but we also need to chill a bit on the criticism some above are making of Sal...
  • User AvatarDavid 8th Feb - 1:25pm
    Unbelievable diversion from the real issue: what is our compelling electoral proposition which faces up the the seismic changes in society? It sure as hell...
  • User AvatarLorenzo 8th Feb - 1:25pm
    Very good , Robert, yes, but I do not share your embarrassment , and , with such a reflective and sensible approach , nor should...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 8th Feb - 1:25pm
    I am fed up with Lib Dem MPs being quizzed in general election campaigns about why we have no women or BAME MPs. I remember...