A radical, liberal safety net

Two polls since the last General Election have investigated people’s views on introducing a Universal Basic Income. Populus found at the end of July this year that 41% of those surveyed supported the idea with only 17% opposed. The rest were either neutral or didn’t know. This polling also helped illuminate what the public feel would be the costs and benefits, with 49% agreeing it would reduce the stigma of claiming welfare but 45% being concerned about it being unaffordable. If the Liberal Democrats are to back a UBI it is therefore vital that we set out how we will fund it.

A poll the previous year by the University of Bath’s IPR found 79% thought that introducing a UBI as a reward for those doing unpaid work is fairly or very convincing as well as found 63% of Labour-leaning adults supported the principles of a UBI compared to 40% of Conservative-leaning adults. This suggests that while a UBI is traditionally seen as a more left-wing idea, there is a significant level of support across the political spectrum for introducing a Universal Basic Income.

I have recently written a report on a possible implementation of a Universal Basic Income, which can be found here. This implementation would provide a monthly sum of £624 to every person over the age of 18 and a monthly sum of £312 per child to the parents. I would also support a withholding of a percentage of this in order to create a trust fund for every child for when they turn 18. Other policy changes I have suggested in order to fund this scheme are the merger of National Insurance into Income Tax with a personal allowance of £6,396 and tax rates of 35%, 45% and 50%. The distributional analysis of these changes can be found at the bottom of the document. I did not cover housing costs or disability welfare in this report as I am intending on covering those seperately.

In my mind, it is imperative that we treat a Universal Basic Income as the basis of a radically liberal economic policy as it would facilitate many other changes that we wish to make in order to safeguard our planet and deliver a fair and prosperous future for everyone.

* Oliver Craven is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

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  • James Belchamber 26th Nov '18 - 1:53pm

    Seen some great arguments in favour of UBI, so it’s great to see some figures as well. A UBI would truly set out a Liberal alternative – one that places trust in each individual, to be free to define and pursue their goals, and to be free from the shackles of poverty and coercion.

  • Laurence Cox 26th Nov '18 - 2:27pm


    Are you aware that Adam Bernard (https://adambernard.net/cgi/income) is resubmitting the Basic Income motion to Spring Conference that he submitted to last Autumn Conference and was encouraged to resubmit by FCC.

    Also your sum of £624 per month (£7488 per annum) is over £1000 less than the current full State Pension, £164.35 per week (£8546.20 per annum), so you are going to upset all the pensioners if you replace State Pension as you propose. Better to revise your proposals to exclude those over State Pension Age; the Party already has a Citizen’s Pension as party policy.

  • I note that you have set the adult level of your Universal Basic Income at £624 a month which is £144 a week which is the figure that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said was the amount needed for a single person to live on poverty line in 2015/16. Inflation has increased this to £151.49 a week. The new pension is £164.35 a week so you are also proposing a cut for pensioners of £20.35 a week.

    You haven’t said if your Universal Basic Income is taxable. If it is then a person would only receive £136.65 a week.

    It is illiberal to tell parents that they will not receive the full £72 per child because the state has decided that the child must have a trust fund when they turn 18.

    The current rates of Income Tax and National Insurance are 32%, 42% and 47%. If we are going to combine them, then the 2% should be increased to 12% making 32%, 52% and 57%.

    You assert that paying every adult £7,488 and £3744 for each child will cost £442 billion. How did you get this figure? How did you arrive at £159 billion savings from existing benefits and pensions? What makes you think the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit would apply to a Universal Basic Income even at 60%? Where do you get the idea that expanding National Insurance to all income and increasing the Income Tax rates by 3% would generate £113 billion or even £90 billion? According to government figures (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/714482/SS18_Direct_effects_of_illustrative_tax_changes_bulletinFinal_v1.1.pdf) a 1% increase in all three income tax rates would produce £6.4 billion for the year 2020-21. In the past I have calculated that extending National Insurance to apply like Income Tax would raise £6 billion. This only adds up to £25.2 billion.

  • James Belchamber 26th Nov '18 - 3:29pm

    >Simply the cst of another complete NHS.

    It is another complete, universal service. So that’s an apt comparison. Especially since people mocked the NHS as an unaffordable idea, and now it’s considered an indespensible part of modern Britain.

  • Getting seriously hung up on the numbers here. You can always make it cheaper by tweaking bits of it, but what I would like to know, Simon and Michael, is are you basically in favour of UBI but worried about the numbers or are you against and using the figures to talk it down ?
    Not sure exactly what has been taking into the mix in Oliver’s modelling, but surprised it comes out as expensive as he claims given the savings to the benefits budget and the fact that much of it would be reclaimed in tax (or, if you are earning over the personal tax allowance you automatically pay 20% back immediately). What rate have assumed your top rate tax payers are paying, say, over £100k ? As you say, this needs to be seen as part of a broader set of policies to increase social justice.
    Thanks, Oliver, for keeping this issue on the agenda. Modern labour markets are going to increase the income gap between the unskilled/semi skilled service sector workers ( including the gig economy) and professionals with highly sought after skills. Unless we are prepared to accept the social damage that will be the inevitably result, we have to come up with something and given that we can’t push the minimum wage up much more without damaging small companies, UBI is still an idea worth looking at.

  • James Belchamber 26th Nov '18 - 6:01pm

    It’s unlikely that we will have mass unemployment in the long term. What a UBI does is ensure people have the means to stop, rethink, reskill and adapt to a new age without risking poverty for themselves and their families – dealing with the inevitable shocks of high unemployment that are predicted in the short/medium term.

  • While the idea is well meaning, it’s simply fantasy to think this would be popular with the public if it were actually subject to scrutiny. How do you go from “79% thought that introducing a UBI as a reward for those doing unpaid work is fairly or very convincing” to thinking the public would support a scheme costing well over £100bn a year?

    I think it’s more alarming that 21% of the public think it is acceptable for people to work unpaid.

  • On reflection I think I misunderstood the context of “79% thought that introducing a UBI as a reward for those doing unpaid work is fairly or very convincing”. I was thinking of the schemes of unpaid work we’ve seen used as part of the welfare system. I assume the thinking was this would reward people who undertake voluntary unpaid work.

    I still think a Liberal UBI policy is a long way from ready for acceptance. It would be hugely counterproductive to accept a weak policy in this area. I also think it’s important to note that there are Socialist reasons for supporting UBI and we need to be careful that we are offering something that is Liberal.

  • Peter Martin 26th Nov '18 - 8:13pm

    @ James Belchamber,

    “It’s unlikely that we will have mass unemployment in the long term.”

    You could be right but if you are, unemployment/underemployment won’t be cured by your kind of supply-side thinking.

    Stephanie Kelton explains how it could be done:


  • Adam Bernard 26th Nov '18 - 8:55pm

    Laurence: The motion, should anyone want to support it with their signature, is now at https://adambernard.net/cgi/income

  • James Belchamber 26th Nov '18 - 9:13pm

    @Peter Martin the alternative proposal Kelton makes is for a job guarantee scheme. I consider UBI to be much more Liberal since it doesn’t compel people into work, and more practical since a job guarantee is not also a value guarantee – there’s no reason to think the “provided” jobs would be of either good quality or produce much value.

    A job guarantee scheme’s only value seems to be in extracting effort (not value) from people, in exchange for their survival. That rests on some pretty dubious (and IMO illiberal) morals.

  • Alisdair McGregor 26th Nov '18 - 9:21pm

    @Simon McGrath It should surely be noted that £283bn is within the right ballpark of what we spend on the current benefits system, so it should not come as a surprise that a UBI would be in that range.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Nov '18 - 9:50pm

    With respect, Oliver, I don’t see UBI as radical. It’s very much a liberal solution, and therefore to my mind not good enough for radical Liberal Democrat thinking, which is essential in this time of desperate and increasing poverty in this country. Concentrate on the Philip Alston report as raw data, underpinned as it is by every other study and report on national poverty, and let us campaign first and foremost on the changes that we know the country needs.

    Think of taxing wealth. Think of replacing Universal Credit with a humane tax credit system. Think of reforming Council Tax and building masses of social housing, in modular form if that will help. Consider whether a four-day working week may be a good solution to reduced job opportunities in future. Demand the replacement of food banks with food vouchers, liberally dispersed. But don’t let us fall back on such a catch-all, feel-good, liberal middle-class idea as UBI as a solution.,

  • Oliver,

    well done on producing the report and running some numbers. UBI was Libdem policy until 1992 and if Adam Bernard’s motion is passed at spring conference will become so again.
    As you note in your report, the negative income tax approach can be made distributionally equivalent to flat rate payment. I think this is likely to be a more acceptable approach so should not be dismissed on the grounds that it could be reduced.
    The UBI needs to be supplemented with a fit for purpose housing benefit and disabilities benefit program, but that is not a reason for not progressing the reform.

  • @ Chris Cory

    I agree that UBI is a liberal policy. I have written LDV articles in support of UBI. The last one on how it could be financed – https://www.libdemvoice.org/can-we-afford-a-universal-basic-income-56572.html. I suggested an adult rate of £73.08 and child rates of £45.70 and £38.70 and suggested how £51.1 billion could be raised to pay for most of it. My scheme didn’t abolish any existing benefits. However, I think our priority should be to abolish poverty in the UK and remove the 14 million people, in the UK who are living in poverty, out of poverty, including the 4 million of them living 50% below the poverty line and the 1.5 million who are destitute as identified in Philip Alston’s UN report on UK poverty.

  • Peter Martin 26th Nov '18 - 10:24pm

    @ James Belchamber,

    The Liberal party emerged as the party of Capitalism in the 19th century. It didn’t support feudalism or slavery but it did support the idea of voluntary paid work. Everyone is free to leave one job and move to another. So there is nothing particularly illiberal, or il-Liberal, about guaranteeing everyone a job who needs one. It would be no more compulsory than any other form of employment. If you don’t need the money you don’t need to do the work.

    I’d have it as an additional option to what we have at the moment. So there would be no suggestion of workfare or forcing those who are medically unfit to do work they aren’t capable of doing. I would expect there would be a big take up. Most people want to feel they are making a contribution to society.

    But, I would trial the idea on a small scale in areas of high unemployment. It wouldn’t cost much to see how it would go.

  • I think the focus on cost is something of a red herring. Redistribution (as the name suggests) is cost neutral across the economy if it is properly designed such that tax burdens do not disincentivise or dampen economic activity. The main advantage of UBI is the elimination of means testing and importantly the benefit trap that still makes it unrealistic for many to engage in productive employment.
    The UBI is a safety net, not a cure all for inequality. It can and should (coupled with housing and disability benefit programs )address absolute poverty and destitution while mitigating to some extent relative poverty.

    The bulk of the population will continue to engage in productive employment and those that choose not to will be making a choice to forego the consumption that earning additional income provides for.

    The job guarantee is best introduced at times of high employment (such as now). It will only be taken up in areas where other job opportunities are scarce and coupled with a UBI can enable people to escape relative poverty. Most importantly it will act as a automatic stabiliser to support demand in times of rising unemployment in ways which a UBI cannot.

  • Peter Martin 27th Nov '18 - 8:42am

    Good point, Joe, about the ‘automatic stabiliser’ effect of the JG. I’m not sure if I would agree, though, that it would ‘only be taken up in areas where other job opportunities are scarce’. I think you’ve made the point, yourself, that there is considered to be a general labour shortage in London at the same time we have pockets of deprivation and poverty there.

    This can be caused by several factors. Long periods of unemployment can create a condition of unemployability . Maybe the person concerned has drifted into anti social drug abuse or been involved in criminal activities. Perhaps they are mentally or physically disabled.

    So, one of the big challenges with the JG is to guarantee everyone who wants to work some kind of a job that they are physically and mentally capable of doing. It does needs a bit of imagination to think of the possibilities. The private sector will never have that. They’ll always want to hire off the top.

  • Sue Sutherland 27th Nov '18 - 1:19pm

    I like the idea of UBI and want to keep an open mind because it feels quite liberating, but if it results in less money for those living in poverty it isn’t liberating at all. One of the arguments for it is that it enables people to retrain throughout their lives but couldn’t this be addressed by specific grants and support programmes for those who are going to fall foul of structural unemployment or who want to train to be in a different job?
    I notice that the phrase ‘means testing’ has cropped up again. The experience of means testing is almost a century old when investigators delved into the private lives of the poor and unemployed. It was appalling then but, surely,

  • @Richard Church.
    Richard, I’m sure you do deserve it. And if UBI allowed a few other people to retire early then that would allow more opportunities for the young, allow people to start their own business or get more involved in charity or community work and, dare I say it, generally increase the joy of mankind.

  • Sue sutherland 27th Nov '18 - 1:33pm

    Apologies for getting in a muddle…. but surely means testing could now be operated much less intrusively and avoid the situation where, e.g. well off pensioners receive cold weather payments they don’t need while others have to choose between fuel or food, or in some cases neither.
    I also think we should be looking at generational unemployment. I went back to work at 47 having had 3 children and 9 years as a local councillor. It was extremely difficult to do this. How much more must it be difficult to work after your parents and grandparents haven’t done so. I think this qualifies as Idleness, one of Beveridge’s targets. People sink into depression and other mental health problems as well as experiencing ill health. They are definitely imprisoned and we should be offering them a positive way out of this rather than penalising them for the number of children they have. I don’t think UBI would solve this problem at all.
    So overall we should be looking at the ills in our society and recommending appropriate solutions rather than coming up with an answer which is attractive but doesn’t address those ills.

  • nvelope2003 27th Nov '18 - 2:42pm

    There are already labour shortages in many parts of Britain. How will paying people to do nothing solve this problem ? I agree that some people such as the middle classes do not like certain jobs but it is often essential that someone does them. Whilst many people want to make a contribution there are many others who will only work if they are rewarded for it.

  • Peter Hirst 27th Nov '18 - 2:55pm

    There must be some conditionality to a UBI. Should it be all or none? There is a strong argument for rewarding non paid work. Why not pilot it somewhere? Also, it should if enacted be protected by a super-majority so it is not made an electoral liability.

  • Peter Martin 27th Nov '18 - 4:10pm

    @Peter Hirst

    “There must be some conditionality to a UBI”

    If there were, it wouldn’t be a UBI ! Maybe just a CBI ? Except those three letters are already spoken for.

    The ‘U’ means that the local drug pusher who makes a good living and doesn’t pay a penny in income tax or VAT, qualifies as much as some more deserving person who has just lost their job through no fault of their own.

    This is never going to have any significant electoral appeal.

  • Peter Martin 27th Nov '18 - 6:20pm

    @ Joe,

    Even if you are right about drug dealers there are plenty more making a decent leaving in our £150 bn pa black economy, and that is probably just the not overtly criminal part, who pay no income tax or VAT but who would qualify for any UBI.


  • It really comes down to public attitude. Exactly the same argument could be used for public healthcare. Why should we have the NHS when it can be accessed by criminals? What about people with the means to use private healthcare? What about people that the tabloid press has deemed undeserving? Should alcoholics get treatment? What about obese people? Wouldn’t it better if we only spent public money on people that are judged to deserve it?

  • There is no reason why a Universal Basic Income should be unaffordable: you tax the well off and give the money to those with much less. The rich have less, and the poor more. The purpose of UBI is not to eliminate different levels of income, but to reduce the range of it. That is what the present system of taxes and benefits does; UBI would do it better. We could even divide up the Total National Income (TONI ?)(more or less the same thing and same sum as GDP) so that everyone had the same income, but that would be silly.

    But most of the objections above and elsewhere to UBI are short-sighted, and looking at the wrong end. LDs surely ought first to consider more earnestly and more hopefully whether UBI would be good, and what form it could best take, and then adapt the details to avoid all the niggles that naturally come up in discussion; not surrender to them without more ado. UBI ought to be treated just like all other income, part of each person’s total that is then subject to Income Tax, the rates doubtless altered to maintain an equitable range of incomes. The Joneses will still be local top dogs.

    It should not be complicated, but it should be well thought out and promoted. And its implementation must take, I suggest, two parliaments, or a decade. Why? Because a radical redistribution of personal Incomes will lead to radical changes in Demand and in types of work — fewer builders of big yachts, more builders of houses, fewer brewers of plastic, more makers of paper, perhaps; fewer nail-bars, more nurses; fewer vans, more local shops.

    Well balanced, UBI could transform our national life for the better. It must be promoted.

  • Peter Martin 28th Nov '18 - 9:27am

    “The purpose of UBI is not to eliminate different levels of income, but to reduce the range of it.”

    This is what they want you to think and this is how it will be sold. However, if we are gullible, we’ll fall for the neoliberal UBI scam to make most people poorer and a few richer. UBI will instead be used aggravate inequality and reduce social programs that benefit the majority of people.

    One of early champions of a UBI was the patron saint of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman. In his book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman argued for a “negative income tax” as a means to deliver it. Friedman wanted to use a UBI as a means to eliminate social programs which he termed a ‘rag-bag’ of measures. The idea is that once everyone is in receipt of the UBI there’s no need for the NHS. No need for unemployment benefit and all the rest of the support network that is in place.

    UBI is more a Trojan Horse than a gift horse. We shouldn’t just look into its mouth but inside its body too. There we’ll also find the supporters of the Universal Credit. UBI is just an extension of UC. Anyone can work out just how UBI would work under the present govt. They’ve all read Milton Friedman!

    Ellie Mae O’Hagan, writing in the Guardian, has spotted the danger.


  • Peter Martin, just above this:

    UBI could perhaps be a Trojan Horse, if offered by crooks or conservatives. But I am the writer of the line you quote, and I write in good faith. And I write from the standpoint that Neoliberalism is a con. That matter is neatly summed up in a letter this week in the New Scientist. I will send it below this in a separate Comment, to keep this one short. I had expected to be attacked for my simple-minded sentimentality, not my dark deviousness.

    As for UC, it is unfortunate that the word Universal foxes people –unfortunate, but all too natural, in the way the New Scientist letter points out. That particular instance is, I believe, a calculated deception — well, deflection, then — by the Conservatives, for the use of the term ‘neoliberalism’ has become conspicuous only in the last decade.

    The UBI I propose would take perhaps two parliaments or a decade to implement. It would be gradual but continuous, since it would soon begin to change everything.

    It is too late to smell the stinking coffee — Lib Dems must wake up and MAKE the coffee.

  • Peter Martin, 9.27 am: Herewith the New Scientist letter mentioned in my last, just above.

    From New Scientist of 17 November 2018

    Published 14 November 2018
    How a ‘neo-liberal’ free-for-all is illiberal
    From Deborah Chamberlain, London, UK

    David Cole criticises Simon Oxenham for suggesting that a liberal outlook is the default in Western societies (Letters, 27 October), and then says that the large parts of society that haven’t thrived under neo-liberal economics and bewildering social change deserve respect. This risks confusion over the word “liberal”.

    A liberal democracy is one in which the universal franchise and the rule of law are essential: the interests of all people are served and not just certain sectors. It tends towards a welfare state.

    Neo-liberalism is another name for laissez-faire liberalism, or laissez-faire economics, which sees all human interactions as competitive, market-driven transactions, in which it is both inevitable and right that some become richer and more powerful than others in the “free market”?.

    The two are pretty much polar opposites and it is unfortunate that the similarity of name makes it possible to confuse the two.

    Magazine issue 3204 published 17 November 2018

  • Peter Martin:

    I tend to support that view too. That’s exactly why I want a UBI. I wouldn’t necessarily do away with the NHS. I think in an ideal world we’d have a stripped down NHS, a UBI and no other state benefits.

  • Peter Martin 28th Nov '18 - 7:33pm

    @ Andrew T

    ” It really comes down to public attitude.”

    Yes, this is true in a democracy

    “I wouldn’t necessarily do away with the NHS. I think in an ideal world we’d have a stripped down NHS, a UBI and no other state benefits.”

    What about free education? Is that to go too? We won’t have an ideal world if we give up on those who we consider aren’t bright enough to fit in with our hi-tech vision of the future. We have to be more inclusive and ask everyone to give something as well as receive something. That’s where the concept of full employment and the JG comes in. If we run out of things to do we can have shorter hours and longer holidays.

    @ Joe

    “Neo-liberalism means different things to different people”

    This is true. If we look at a dictionary definition we usually see something like:

    “a modified form of liberalism tending to favour free-market capitalism.”

    I wouldn’t really agree. We could have a non-neoliberal, successful and relatively free market capitalism if it were run by people who understood sectoral balances better and didn’t start to panic whenever there was a desire to net save in the economy. The Govt could then accommodate that desire by not fretting about their deficit. Govt deficits are much loathed by neoliberals and that can only be due to a lack of understanding. Guaranteeing everyone a job moves things slightly away from the free market, but not by much and certainly by no more than those who are trying to tempt us all with the mirage of a guaranteed income.

  • @Peter Martin at 7.33
    I agree with you about the ‘lack of understanding’ of neoliberal Governments — well, ours anyway; they believe money is the core of everything. But why do you condemn UBI as a ‘mirage’? Unless, that is, you are using the term not as an optical delusion, but more as a true sighting of a reality concealed by the horizon?

    And I agree with your remark nearby, that ‘in a true democracy ‘. . . ‘it comes down to public attitude’. It seems to me that our present Brexit travails and misgivings are a direct and intended consequence of a ‘public attitude’ based on the erroneous preconceptions of a populace denied a decent education. That sounds, I know, disgustingly elitist; it may be true, though?

    I think you miss an important third advantage to UBI, in mentioning only ‘shorter hours and longer holidays’. My third would be Part-Time-Self-Employment. Many people, including me, would be glad of the opportunity to earn extra income by their own self-employed initiative and skill and drive. A painter who could not subsist on his portraits alone, but can earn the jam to put on his UBI bread. A second-hand bookshop on every High Street, the owner snoozing or energetically writing a masterpiece while awaiting another customer. Surely, part of the merit and appeal of UBI is how it opens up countless worthwhile opportunities to do a little good by turning an honest penny; or vice versa.

  • I’ve just Posted a Comment — has it completely disappeared? It’s 9.20 pm

  • It looks like it — my apols to Peter Martin of 7.33!

  • @David Raw

    The NHS is fantastic at saving lives. A lot of “healthcare” needs are not emergencies. I think private funding models can provide a lot of these needs better than the NHS. So long as people are provided with the means, I don’t see why this would be a problem. I’m not suggesting the Lib Dems campaign on cutting back the NHS, just talking hypothetically.

    @Peter Martin

    You seem to be suggesting communism. What makes you think the government would be any good at allocating people to useful jobs when every attempt in history has led to disaster?

  • Peter Davies 28th Nov '18 - 11:10pm

    Generally those figures all look sensible enough except the one Simon pointed out. I believe a UBI system would produce growth in the long term but £170bn in the first year really does reduce the credibility of the whole proposal. Your initial proposal needs to balance. When the growth arrives or when you find new sources of income like LVT you can use it to ratchet up the Basic Income. With those tax rates but completely removing personal allowances (because UBI is better from every direction than personal allowance) You would have approximately the right amount to replace the current state pension and give working age adults an amount that replaces single job seekers allowance or personal income tax and NI allowances.

  • Nonconformistradical 29th Nov '18 - 8:19am

    @Andrew T
    “A lot of “healthcare” needs are not emergencies. I think private funding models can provide a lot of these needs better than the NHS. So long as people are provided with the means, I don’t see why this would be a problem. ”

    So who controls the costs? It seems to me that in the USA the private funding model has resulted in the medical profession and the drug manufacturers charging what they like – with built-in incentives to carry out tests which might not be necessary, prescribe medication which might not be necessary etc.

    Are you suggesting that people should be assisted in paying whatever the medics and drug manufacturers want to charge? Sounds like ‘help to buy’ in the housing market. Or are you suggesting that people with non-emergency health needs who can’t afford the market prices just do without?

  • @Noconformistradical

    Healthcare could be a whole other topic (or several). In truth in an ideal world (not the one we have now) I think drugs and medicine would be a market regulated at an international level.

  • @ Andrew T. You appear to be elevating ‘the market’ to an almost mystical theological status. Now it may be that at a certain commercial level markets do have a role to play – but in health they most certainly should not.

    What you appear to have faith in did not work before the NHS. It has always been a matter of great regret to me that I never knew two of my uncles – who died as children because my grandfather could not afford to pay for medical help in the 1920’s. Millions of other people have similar stories to tell.

    Access to healthcare should be a universal human right. It should be regarded as part of the fabric of of a civilised society. It should not be the preserve of the wealthy and those who can afford it. You also underplay the importance of preventative health care in what you describe as minor matters.

  • Peter Martin 29th Nov '18 - 2:26pm

    @Andrew T

    “You seem to be suggesting communism.”

    Not at all. 97%, or so, of jobs will be as they are now. The mix of public and private sector jobs will also be decided in the same way it is now.

    The question is what to do about the few % of potential workers who are unemployed or very much underemployed in the present system. If you look up the terms Phillips curve and NAIRU, you’ll see that the conventional wisdom is that we need to keep a % of workers unemployed to control inflation. This doesn’t seem very ‘liberal’ to me! So instead of having a pool of unemployed reserve labour we have a pool of employed reserve labour.

    Some unemployed workers are only temporarily unemployed and they probably won’t be interested in JG jobs. So my expectation would be a take up rate of around 3%. This would vary – just as the numbers of unemployed varies now.

    No doubt some JG jobs will be criticised on the grounds of low productivity. That remains to be seen but they have to be an improvement on unemployment which is 0% productive.

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