Author Archives: Harry Samuels

Harry Samuels is a Lib Dem member and former Communications Officer for Young Liberals

In debating UBI, we need to be clear what we’re talking about

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In Stephen O’Brien’s recent post on this website entitled “Why we shouldn’t just jump on the UBI bandwagon”, he makes a series of points in opposition to a Universal Basic Income (UBI). The difficulty with his criticisms is that he argues against a version of UBI almost nobody is proposing. If we are to have a constructive discussion about UBI as a party, we need to make sure that both supporters and detractors are talking about the same thing.

First, the £830-a-month proposal Stephen critiques appears to be plucked out of nowhere. There has been no substantive proposal along these lines made. If we were to agree on the principle of UBI, we would of course need to work out precisely how it would work and the exact level it would be set at. In order to be a “basic” income, however, it is likely that it would need to be higher than this, neutralising any objection that Universal Credit currently provides more than UBI would.

Stephen also makes an assumption that UBI would totally replace all existing welfare benefits full stop. So, in the example he sets up to criticise UBI, he implies that it would abolish all disability benefits. This is a proposal I have never heard being made by anyone who supports the policy. Almost all its major supporters agree that there would have to be uplifts for those with disabilities, and in other categories. Nobody would lose out.

In general, it should be noted that the primary point of UBI is to eradicate economic insecurity. A key cause of economic insecurity is the waiting period for welfare payments, inherent in our current system: the Trussell Trust views it as the reason for a significant proportion of food bank usage, for example. This delay is an in-built feature of the current welfare system, and other programmes like a negative income tax (NIT). UBI abolishes it entirely by giving all people unconditional payments. Under it, nobody ever has to wait to be assessed and processed when they suddenly fall on hard times.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 57 Comments

What would a 2019 People’s Budget look like?

Today is the 110th anniversary of the introduction of the People’s Budget by David Lloyd-George, then the Chancellor in the Liberal government of HH Asquith. Lloyd George’s aim was to wage “implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness” and to make poverty “as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.” Backed up by radical policy in support of the Liberal welfare reforms, it was an example of what liberalism can do when it does not split the difference and sit on the fence. But 110 years on, our society faces a similar range …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 23 Comments

Friends of Young Liberals: Launch

For many of us, the Lib Dems aren’t just a political party, but a political family too. We don’t just campaign together, but we socialise together, chat together, make friends, and in some cases, meet future partners, husbands, wives. Moreover, for many Lib Dems that I have spoken to, the Young Liberals (under any of its many former names) have played an integral part in that, providing a way for liberal-minded young people to get stuck in and meet others like them.

Moreover, the Young Liberals of today carry on as the legendary “golden generation” of the past did: we work up and down the country, flooding into campaigns in by-elections, distributing Focus leaflets to students, holding social events and conferences throughout the UK, and contributing to the party at all levels.

We try to shout about our work as much as possible, but I often hear people say that they wish they could keep in touch with Young Liberals and hear about our successes as well as our views and opinions more often.

That’s why, with the help of the current Young Liberals Executive, I am today launching a scheme called Friends of Young Liberals, which aims to help people do exactly that.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

The sugar tax is as liberal as they come

Andy Briggs recently wrote on this blog that “any Liberal government worth its salt would repeal the sugar tax”. Certainly, the justifications that the government has given are to do with deterrence, and I agree that those are illiberal – but there is a much more compelling reason to support the principle of this policy, and one which goes right to the core of liberalism.

It is undeniable that a diet of sugary foods leads to obesity, and undeniable that obesity is one of the great killers in this country. But not only that, it’s costly – according

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 45 Comments
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