Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 741 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
The social security debate at Conference this afternoon will be dominated by two major arguments. George Potter recommended rejection of the motion as a whole because it chose not to endorse a universal basic income and because it supports the use, albeit much restricted, of sanctions. Supporters of the UBI may well support an amendment calling for a negative income tax from Calderdale while an amendment signed by members opposes the use of benefits sanctions in any circumstances. We asked our members what they thought of the idea of UBI and sanctions.
Are you in favour of a universal basic income?
Here are some of the comments made:
It would be a clear, distinct policy and place the Party firmly on the “Left” (which, as Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown proved) is the only place it can survive.
The nature of work is changing and society needs to catch up. The markets can no longer be a funnel for the rich to build up their wealth. Redistribution needs to be far more aggressive.
No. It is fundementally wrong as it discriminates against the most vulnerable in society. Common denominators always end up being the lowest.
As far as I understand the universal basic income does not add up. The costs to be saved from not doing means testing are small. If the budget for benefits/basic income remains fixed then it takes money from the lower end and shifts it upwards.
It makes me nervous as a policy because it’s hard to sell, but the success of tests elsewhere draws me to it.
On benefits sanctions, the margin was even greater. We asked:
Do you think there should be a presumption against the use of benefits sanctions?
Again, some of the comments made by respondents:
We are against enslavement by poverty & conformity. We should NOT use the threat of starvation as a stick to encourage “work ethic”.
Sanctions are being used punitively at the current time. We have to find better ways to incentivise people, generally those who are excluded, to move forward into some form of gainful employment. But also recognise that we have to support those in society who can’t fit into available work routines.
People should never be punished by having their only means of support/ability to buy food taken away.
A presumption, but recognising that in some cases they may be appropriate and required.
It is very easy to make mistakes in benefit decisions; the rules are complex, the number of claims is massive and the workload on civil servants heavy, and the claimants are by definition disproportionately drawn from groups of people who may struggle with understanding what they are being asked, or with responding within deadlines. Sanctions have a severe effect and reversing them is cumbersome and time consuming. There needs to be an active process for deciding that they are appropriate in an individual case rather than a blanket approach.
- 2,200+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 741 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 13-15 September 2016
- Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. The surveys are, though, the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country.
- We have been able to test the LibDemVoice surveys against actual results on a handful of occasions. It correctly forecast the special Lib Dem conference would overwhelmingly approve the Coalition Agreement in May 2010. In the 2008 and 2010 elections for Lib Dem party president, it correctly predicted the winner. However, in the 2014 election it didn’t; see here for my thoughts on this.
- Polling expert Anthony Wells has written about the reliability/validity of LibDemVoice surveys here.
- The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings