Jane Dodds writes: Basic Income is a liberal idea and we must reclaim it

As a long-standing advocate of Basic Income I was incredibly excited that my native Wales was the first part of the UK to pilot this policy idea. I have supported the Labour Government in this process and am following developments with optimism.

The pilot is centred around young people leaving the care system. This is a particularly disadvantaged group of youngsters who ordinarily would be more or less left to their own devices when they reach their 18th birthday and are no longer considered children by the system.

There is already evidence that the generous £400 per week package is being used by these young people to go on courses, or to put down a deposit on a flat. One young person has used it to pay for driving lessons.

Even though the scheme has been criticised constantly by Conservatives in Wales, who say among other things that these young people will be taken advantage of, there is no evidence so far of that happening.

The scheme has been in place for a year and there is another year to go. The trial is being evaluated independently by Cardiff University and I am convinced that it will show that a Basic Income is good for people, for communities and for the economy.

Which is also why I am disappointed that our own party, which led the way in the UK by making Basic Income official party policy back in 2020, now appears to be backsliding in its commitment to this very liberal idea.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a Basic Income is a regular and unconditional payment to every individual in society, as a right of citizenship.

A Basic Income has five core characteristics:

  • It’s paid in cash: it’s money you can spend on whatever you want.
  • It’s paid regularly: so you know the next payment is coming.
  • It’s for individuals: Each person gets their own basic income, paid to the individual not the household.
  • It’s unconditional: You don’t have to work or make any promises to get your basic income, there are no strings attached
  • It’s universal: everyone gets it.

Basic Income is, at its core, about financial stability and dignity for all.

Basic Income trials like the one in Wales (and others currently being proposed in England) are a good idea, although there is already plenty of evidence that these sorts of unconditional cash transfer programmes have incredibly positive impacts on the wellbeing of communities and individuals.

A four-year experiment in Canada in the 1970s found that giving people a basic income made everyone nearly 10% less likely to end up in hospital. It also concluded, contrary to most popular beliefs, that giving people a bit of money does not have a measurable impact on their willingness to work.

More recently, a smaller basic income study among a cohort of unemployed people in Finland also concluded that their health outcomes were better and their inclination to work unaffected.

Modelling of Basic Income schemes shows that they reduce child poverty and health inequalities.

The Liberal Democrats made support for Basic Income official party policy at our 2020 party conference. With millions facing economic uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we recognised that financial stability had to be for everyone and that we had a vested interest in looking out for each other in society.

Our policy people went to work and produced a sensible policy proposal for giving everyone in the country a Basic Income.

And yet, just three years later, that clarity of vision appears to have been lost. The Basic Income proposal was buried inside yet another consultation and essentially discarded at this year’s spring conference. Even the original proposal document has been removed from the party’s website (They published it here https://www.libdems.org.uk/a21-universal-basic-income but have now removed that page.)

I want our party to reclaim this liberal idea. Basic Income was proposed by Paddy Ashdown as a fundamental component of his “Radical Agenda for the 1990s”, a book published in the late 1980s. It is liberal because it recognises the agency of the individual and their contribution to society. A Basic Income, he said, “gives security to each individual”, and will also “liberate power in the hands of the citizen.”

We need to be a party that is not afraid to articulate bold ideas that strengthen our citizens, reduce inequality and make for stronger communities. Basic Income is one such idea. A Basic Income does not solve every problem, but it makes every problem easier to solve.

I will be at our autumn conference making the case for a Basic Income and I hope you will join me. Our session is on Sunday, September 24th 19.45 to 21.00 in the Meyrick Suite and the BIC.

* Jane Dodds is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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37 Comments

  • Steve Trevethan 31st Aug '23 - 12:02pm

    Thank you for a most important article!

    Basic income is a necessity if we aim to have a reasonably equitable and, therefore, a more efficient society.
    (Please see the book “The Spirit Level” by Wilkinson and Pickett)

    In a society where some pay National Insurance and those with income which is indirectly work sourced do not, this is a welcome move towards greater equity and inter-generational sustainability.

    It also differentiates us from the Conservative and Labour parties by opposing their neoliberal/anti-social core policies.

    Might it also be a partial antidote to the apparent direction of our leadership to make us a party of “Nice Conservatives”?

  • Peter Martin 31st Aug '23 - 12:39pm

    @ Jane,

    “….my native Wales was the first part of the UK to pilot this policy idea.”

    Did you?

    The scheme you describe was targeted to help those make the transition to live outside the care system they previously relied upon. It’s certainly a good use of public money but it isn’t “universal” and not “everyone gets it”. It was a long way from that. A true trial would also require those in receipt to pay the higher taxes required to implement such a scheme.

    The problem with the pro-UBI arguments is that on the one hand you’re saying that the robots are coming to take our jobs but on the other you’re saying we need a high rate of immigration because of a falling birth rate and so there aren’t enough youngsters available to do all the jobs that need doing in an ageing society.

    This is where the dignity and financial stability should be applied in awarding everyone who does these jobs fair pay and a living wage for doing them.

  • A basic income is at its heart based on reform of the tax and benefit system to redistribute income to lower earners and benefit recipients. An alternative form of basic income is a minimum income guarantee that provides for a flat weekly tax and NI allowance or Universal credit allowance of, for example, £100 per week to all taxpayers and benefit recipients, That forms the base of the system for redistribution.
    The weekly basic allowance payment is supplemented by the current means tested benefit payments with the addition of a basic rental income paid to qualifying tenants based on local housing allowances.
    The suite of policies include:
    1. A revenue neutral minimum income guarantee of £100 per week funded by changing the current system of tax and NI allowances at marginal rates to a flat rate tax reducer that gives the same tax relief to all regardless of tax rate.
    2. Minimum wage and a jobs guarantee program for the ling-term unemployed funded by employers national insurance.
    3. A revenue neutral proportional council tax to redistribute assessments closer in alignment to incomes.
    4. A basic rental income for tenants funded by a land value tax on property owners assessed on the basis of landlord rents or imputed rents for owner-occupiers.
    5. Energy costs support delivered in the form of social tariffs for low-income households.

  • Callum Robertson 31st Aug '23 - 1:25pm

    I’m a professional on a decent salary, so why on earth should I get on board with paying myself extra.

    It strikes me as exceptionally selfish for me, and others in my position, to get money from the government.

    Surely a fairer system would be to target the money to those who need it.

  • George Thomas 31st Aug '23 - 7:36pm

    An 07/08/23 report states fewer people in Wales were claiming Council Tax Reduction/Support than last year which struck me as odd. It referenced 07/2020 report by Policy in Practice which looked at impact of change to UC which suggested amongst other: CTR wasn’t as closely tied to UC as previously under legacy benefit system and that 18% were so worried about being overpaid and having to go through the stress of repayments that they were avoiding it.

    Why pay yourself extra? You don’t have to, you can chose to donate it to charity or spend it in the local shop.

    “Target the money to those who need it.” I don’t disagree, but how much of the current system is on basis of supporting those in need and how much is based on preventing support for those who aren’t?

    Making a claim and managing benefits under current system is an admin-heavy task and removing “official error” defence of overpayment in UC system makes it a task always close to a cliff-edge.

    I’m not yet convinced that UBI is the policy to fix things or even make things sufficiently better, but I don’t think wealthy people getting payment is the reason to question it.

    Especially since wealthy people are already getting free money in other ways by being able to afford clever accountants.

  • Simon Mcgrath 31st Aug '23 - 8:48pm

    Jane could you share some simple costings please. On the face of it £400 a week basic income for say 50m people is £20,000 x 50m or a thousand billion. Where would the money come from ?

  • Peter Martin 1st Sep '23 - 7:50am

    @ Simon,

    Good question.

    Except I would put it that ‘where would the resources come from to make the £1000 bn (or whatever the true figure was after some shuffling around with the rates of taxation) worth something when it came to be spent?’

    If a UBI were to be as high as £400 pw (at today’s prices) many workers might not consider it worth their while going out to work to earn another £400 pw especially if they lost half of it in tax. We do rely on workers going out to do their jobs every day to make £ worth something. If they didn’t turn up there wouldn’t be anything to buy in the shops, the busses and trains wouldn’t run, the NHS and schools would shut, etc etc.

  • Rif Winfield 1st Sep '23 - 8:44am

    A well-argued article, Jane. I fully support all you say. I recall discussing the idea of UBI with Paddy in the early 1980s and found him enthusiastic at the time. Can I remind people that UBI was Liberal Party policy in the 1970s (I was a member of the Party’s Employment & Industrial Relations Panel at the time), and it is sad that some Liberal Democrats are ambivalent about adopting this.
    Callum Robertson’s point is well made, but he misses the psychological point that anything less that a universal application gives a social stigma to those who receive it while others do not; and there is nothing to prevent someone on a comfortable salary from returning money to the Treasury as a donation!
    Simon’s point is well taken, although I do not think that anyone contemplates an initial level of £400 per week. Let us say that it is introduced at just over half that level, i.e. £242 per person (£484 per couple, although they would receive it separately), the level of the present personal tax allowance (£12,570 pa), which would nearly halve Simon’s figure of £1 trillion. For a start, this level would be higher than most welfare benefits, which would thus be abolished. Personal taxation allowances would be abolished, as would the state pension, as pensioners would receive UBI instead. Other income would accrue to the Treasury (various extra items I don’t have space to inciude here). Yes, income tax levels would increase, but there would still be the incentive to work to earn more than not working.

  • Andrew Kerr 1st Sep '23 - 10:05am

    @Callum

    The UBI proposal was to scrap national insurance and replace it with a payment. If you were above the threshold (but below the point at which NI tapers off*) the net effect would be neutral.

    Or to put it another way, instead of means testing both benefits and tax, just means test tax.

    Why is this better?

    Because if circumstances change, the UBI payment is certain. No possibility of mistakes or delays. No paperwork for the claimant – you may be OK navigating government bureaucracy, not everyone is.

    It also wouldn’t have any social stigma attached because everyone would get it.

    * a flaw in the proposal, and if I were a cynic I might suggest it was left like that to make the leadership backed GBI alternative more appealing

  • Andrew Kerr 1st Sep '23 - 10:08am

    Err, the proposal was to scrap the income tax allowance, and replace with basic income payment.

    Brain failure there.

  • Peter Martin 1st Sep '23 - 10:09am

    “.. there would still be the incentive to work to earn more than not working.”

    Maybe not enough of an incentive? You suggest replacing the state pension which is currently £203.85 pw. It’s not a lot but just about enough for some to live on if. Maybe they have some private pension to top it up.

    There are 11 million pensioners in the UK. The number in employment is just over a million. So more than 9 out of 10 aren’t working even though there is “still be the incentive to work to earn more than not working”. I’m not saying they should work BTW. It’s an observation.

    Those of us who have experienced the joys of teenage children will possibly remember saying things like “You really need to get yourself moving. No-one is going to pay you for lying in bed all morning”. If they can reply ” Oh yes they will”, is that going to be a good thing for anyone?

    The Lib Dems seem to accept that we should all be entitled to our fair share of the national income, which most would agree with, but have a mental block about the responsibility of everyone to make a contribution as evidenced by such comments as ” You don’t have to work or make any promises to get your basic income, there are no strings attached”. Hardly anyone agrees with this.

    Neither would proponents of a UBI if they were sharing a living space with someone.

  • David Garlick 1st Sep '23 - 10:22am

    UBI is a great idea that needswork on how to impliment/afford it.

    I guess thaat it would replace some benefits in total or in part?

    eg state pension would be replaced by UBI?

  • Robert Howes 1st Sep '23 - 11:05am

    I have always been opposed to the policy of introducing Basic Universal Incomes. It has been piloted in several parts of the world, and has never really caught on. It would be seen by most British citizens as totally outrageous. The idea of our hard-working taxpayers dishing -out money to people for nothing, would make any government be perceived as barking mad, and would be rejected by most voters.

  • Laurence Cox 1st Sep '23 - 11:37am

    The Citizen’s Pension policy, in effect UBI for pensioners, was passed by the Party at its Autumn 2004 conference and was in the 2005 Manifesto.

  • There is always a lot on misinformation put out whenever basic income proposals are discussed. That is why funding sources need to be specified when figures are quoted.
    The Citizen network describes basic income as “an exciting and positive reform of the social security and tax system An Introduction To Basic Income Plus The article gives examples of how it works.
    A revenue neutral minimum income guarantee for working age taxpayers and benefit claimants of £100 per week requires no extra tax funding than is currently raised. The tax and NI allowances are tax reliefs worth £78 pw to a 20% basic rate taxpayer and £126 to a 40% higher rate. Substituting a £100pw tax reducer in place of these allowances costs the treasury nothing. Increasing the Universal credit basic allowance to £100pw will cost about the same as our previously stated policy on reinstating the £20pw uplift that was withdrawn after Covid.
    2. A jobs guarantee program for the circa long-term unemployed can funded by bringing employers national insurance closer in line with levels assessed in Europe.
    3. A revenue neutral proportional council tax to redistribute assessments closer in alignment to incomes cost the treasury nothing.
    4. A basic rental income for tenants funded by a land value tax on property owners assessed on the basis of landlord rents or imputed rents for owner-occupiers costs the treasury nothing. It is redistribution of land value fro landowners to tenants.
    5. Energy cost support delivered in the form of social tariffs for low-income households are provided by energy companies from their profits.

  • Peter Davies 1st Sep '23 - 3:55pm

    Any UBI proposal is about reforming both the tax and benefits systems. To ensure that we overturned our commitment at Spring Conference, the working group was specifically banned from discussing the tax part. They did their best by billing it as a replacement for Tax and NI allowances but that still leaves about half the money to find. What we passed instead was even further from a complete package. We committed to spending the same as UBI would cost but included an aspiration to raise it to an unspecified level which ended poverty. Even the lower level would result in a large number of households being means tested for benefits while paying higher rate tax.

    At some point we need to get a fully funded UBI discussed at assembly. There are perfectly good ones out there and one based on replacing tax and NI allowances looks like a good place to start.

  • I can understand why supporters of a UBI feel they were sold a pup. At the Spring 2022 Conference they feared that the UBI policy was going to be dropped but were told it would be in the Policy Paper Towards A Fairer Society, but what was meant by this was it would be an option. Ed Davey went so far as to say, if I remember correctly, that the UBI policy would be at the centre of our next general election manifesto.

    Jane Dodds,

    When Conference was given the choice in March this year between a UBI of about £78 a week (of which a person on Universal Credit would only receive £35.10) and ending deep poverty within the decade (where no household would have an income less than 50% of the medium for their household type) they voted for ending deep poverty within the decade. The policy paper suggested that a single person on Universal Credit with our new Guaranteed Basic Income would be better off by £70 a week for the same total cost.

    I believe that Federal Conference can’t discuss a UBI until autumn 2025. During the 2023 debate many of our MPs spoke for ending deep poverty within the decade and against a UBI. If you wish to change this policy I suggest you start with trying to change the minds of our MPs rather than holding fringe events on the subject.

    Rif Winfield,

    The Income Tax Personal Allowance is only worth £48.35 a week (12570 x 20% /52) The allowances for both Income Tax and National Insurance are worth (12570 x 32% / 52) £77.35 a week.

  • Robert Howes,

    Our policy is to scrap the sanctions regime and to make working-age benefits just means-tested and not conditional on looking for work. Many people learnt about the Victorian workhouse system at school and most consider it inhumane. Therefore most people would like a benefit system which is humane and provides enough for people to live on. I don’t know how a single person can live on £85.09 a week and a couple on £133.57. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation a single person needs £138 a week to be living at the deep poverty threshold and a couple needs £238. Do you really believe that most people would be unhappy if people on benefits were living at the deep poverty threshold instead of below the very deep poverty level?

  • Peter Martin 4th Sep '23 - 11:12am

    @ Michael BG,

    “Our policy is ….to make working-age benefits just means-tested and not conditional on looking for work.”

    But why? The system started to fall into disrepute when the popular perception in the early 80s was that most benefit claimants weren’t actively looking for work. The reality being that there weren’t sufficient jobs available in the economy at the time.

    “Therefore most people would like a benefit system which is humane and provides enough for people to live on. ”

    Is anyone seriously suggesting a return of the workhouse? “Most people” would expect that everyone should give to society what they are able to give as well as being given to by society when they are in need.

    “Most people” certainly don’t expect those of working age to be permanently provided with a comfortable living if they aren’t prepared to do something in return.
    Everyone should of course then be entitled to a wage which is a genuine living wage and so receive a fair share of what society as whole can provide for its members.

    ‘Humane’ should mean that we do not require people to look for jobs if none are available. Ultimately if they aren’t available, the state does need to provide everyone with something useful to do which is within their capabilities if the free market is unable to do that. The most to benefit would be those of some disability who often do wish to work.

    https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/about-downs-syndrome/lifes-journey/employment/

  • Peter Hirst 5th Sep '23 - 4:40pm

    I like the idea of pilots targetted at vulnerable groups. They stand a good chance of getting public buy in. The homeless might also benefit or the long term unemployed. It combines our sense of fairness with empowerment though some might need some help to spend it wisely.

  • Peter Martin,

    A workhouse is defined as an institution where those unable to support themselves financially were given accommodation and forced to work. The 1834 Poor Law was passed because it was thought the system of poor relief was being abused. Conditions in a workhouse were supposed to be bad enough to act as a deterrent for people to enter them.

    The state providing compulsory ‘something useful’ for an unemployed person to do in return for benefits which mean they are living in deep poverty is not much different from what was happening in the nineteenth century. Also in a free market economy it can be very difficult to provide meaningful work as the workhouses found out when local organisations such as the Firewood Cutters Protection Association complained that the livelihood of their members were being threatened by the cheap firewood on offer from the workhouses in the East End of London. Sometimes the work they were forced to do was pointless.

    Forcing people to work for their benefits is not a solution for finding suitable work for those with health issues. Incentives need to be use to provide jobs for those with health issues.

    Do you really believe that living at the deep poverty level is comfortable living?

    Do you really believe that a single person can live comfortable on £138 a week and a couple can live comfortably on £238 a week?

  • Peter Martin 5th Sep '23 - 6:10pm

    @ Michael BG,

    The suggestion isn’t to make anyone work for benefits. We’re not talking about workfare.

    “Incentives need to be use to provide jobs for those with health issues.”

    Yes.

    The State imposes taxes upon us which we have to pay to survive. This is the reason why a fiat currency has a value. The taxation creates a demand for the currency. There’s the way the system works and nothing the Lib Dems are proposing is meant to change that. Therefore it also has an obligation to provide a way for us to pay those taxes if the free market is incapable of doing that. This can be only be done by the Government being the employer of last resort by doing what it takes to give everyone of working age a job which is within their capabilities.

    There will have to be some exceptions for people who are too ill to work. If so, we put them on sick leave. Even so they’ll still have a job at a living wage.

  • @Michael BG – “ Conditions in a workhouse were supposed to be bad enough to act as a deterrent for people to enter them.”

    This idea that people (ie. Those the well off leech off) need to be punished seems to be institutionalised in the English class system and much of the neoliberal and right wing political thinking.
    We see similar in the ideas around the purpose of prison and a degree of it in the attitudes around investing in education (for all).

    @callum – I understand your unease, I look at it slightly differently: A universal benefit doesn’t need a bureaucracy to administer means testing and which can be corrupted by politicians, who (with a punishment mentality) will use the bureaucracy to politicise the means testing for party political gain. Provided the taxation is worked out, a universal benefit should be largely neutral on someone well off, with the added benefit that it introduces a safety net.

    In my 20’s working in start up companies, my safety net (when a venture failed) was a room in my parents house, the benefits system offered nothing. UB add to the room at the parents house, as it means I still have a small income to help find the next job. Additionally, if you are 50 plus, just remember there is a high level of male unemployment, so that “decent salary” can very easily go to zero…

  • Robert Skidelskey has written a well constructed article making The case for a guaranteed job
    “There are undoubtedly problems with the design and implementation of a JGP. But I applaud its spirit and intentions. A government’s job is to protect citizens from misfortune, and want of work is the greatest misfortune a population can suffer outside of war and natural catastrophe. An elite that abandons this duty of care, on the spurious grounds that people “choose” their own level of employment, deserves to be cast out. FDR understood this, and so did Keynes. For the first time since the collapse of the Keynesian revolution, it is being suggested by serious politicians that a government has the moral and financial responsibility to maintain full employment. That is the best argument for giving a JGP a fair trial.”

  • Peter Martin,

    You believe that the government should make it compulsory for someone of working age to do the job the government decides is within their capabilities. If you had been unemployed recently you would know how incapable Jobcentre staff are in knowing what a suitable job is for an unemployed person. Also the rate of pay a Jobcentre member of staff thinks is suitable is far too low in many cases and remember these are jobs in the open market not ones being created especially for the unemployed.

    Also someone working in a government created job for the unemployed is likely to not have enough time to apply for enough jobs to be successful in getting one in the open market. Also if the government created job is not one that is the same as they had before being unemployed it will make getting that type of job again more difficult.

    Joe Bourke,

    However, a voluntary job guarantee for people who have been unemployed for more than three months in a job very similar to the one they did before becoming unemployed would be useful. As would a voluntary job guarantee to gain the right experience following training for a new career. I am not sure how useful party policy is on this subject – introducing a green jobs guarantee, offering a well-paying green job to anyone who wants one and providing training courses free to those not in work via a training guarantee scheme, but it is a start.

  • Peter Martin 6th Sep '23 - 8:47am

    Michael BG,

    No it shouldn’t be compulsory for anyone to do a ” job the government decides is within their capabilities”. Anyone can choose to earn their money in any way they like – providing it is legal.

    The argument is that if it compulsory to pay to our taxes then the Government should, as a last resort, provide everyone a means to earn the money to do so. The compulsion aspect arises in the paying of those taxes: VAT, council tax, fuel duty, income taxes etc.

    At first look it would appear that Government is collecting taxes to be able to spend the money. Apply a little lateral thinking and it is obvious they aren’t doing this. They want us to do something for them like provide some goods, services or our own labour. We’ll do what it takes to get the money to redeem our tax obligations.

    Unless the Lib Dems are proposing to make tax payments voluntary you aren’t proposing to remove the compulsion which is central to our economic system. Compulsory taxes drive the currency.

    https://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/05/need-taxes-mmt-perspective.html

  • To the people saying that UBI is great because everyone will get it, who do you mean by everyone? Are children, or 16 and 17 year olds included? What about permanently resident non-citizens (people who have indefinite leave to remain)? Or EU citizens with residency rights? Or people who are living in the UK on work or spouse visas? Or foreigners who are illegally living in the UK without visas? And how about UK citizens who live abroad?

    Including ‘everyone’ isn’t as simple or problem-free as it sounds!

  • Simon R raises a very moot point on UBI when he asks ‘who do you mean by everyone’ ?

    For example, will Mr & Mrs Rishi Sunak, the Duke of Westminster, and members of the Royal family get it, or will there be some sort of cut off point ?

  • Peter Davies 6th Sep '23 - 5:30pm

    There is a continuity between Child Benefit, UBI and citizens’ pensions that means that an amount will be paid into a bank account for each person in the system. The transition from payment into a child’s parent’s bank account to payment into their own is a matter for discussion as is the point at which it rises to adult and then pensioner level. The change in payment account requires manual intervention but the rises don’t. You don’t get the situation where one runs out before the other starts.

    Eligibility should correspond to tax status. If we are replacing tax and national insurance allowances then the same people will be eligible as now.

  • Peter Martin,

    You seem to have misunderstood my interpretation of how you see the government providing work for people. You wrote, “This can be only be done by the Government being the employer of last resort by doing what it takes to give everyone of working age a job which is within their capabilities.” What you mean is the Government should provide unemployed people of working age with a job which the government decides is for them. It is implied that if these unemployed people do not do this job, which as I outlined in my previous comment is likely not to be suitable or pay enough, they will not receive any benefit. This is because your position is that people of working age should not be permanently provided with unemployment benefit at the deep poverty threshold if they aren’t prepared to do something in return. You seem to be claiming that living at the deep poverty threshold is comfortable living, but I note you didn’t answer my questions.

    The provision of work for the unemployed where their choice is to have no benefits or do the work the government require them to do is compulsory work. For the guarantee job provided by the government to be voluntary with no penalty for not doing it makes it a liberal policy. It also makes it much more likely that the government provided jobs taken up by the unemployed will be suitable for them and help them back into the jobs market.

  • Simon R and David Raw,

    When people talk of everyone getting a UBI they often mean everyone of working-age. In the party’s second consultation paper they included those aged between 16 and 18. If the income tax and national insurance thresholds are abolished then it does as Peter Davies wrote make sense to include everyone of working-age entitled to work in the UK.

    Child Benefit is still considered a universal benefit, but if one of the child’s parents or guardians earns more than £50,000 a year the government gets part of the money back in extra income tax until at £60,000 they get all of it back. Currently people lose their Income Tax Personal Allowance gradually when their earnings are between £100,000 and £125,140 a year. Therefore a UBI scheme should include a way of the government getting back the UBI they pay. I suggested to the UBI working group set the Income Tax rate at 50% on incomes above £100,000. This would mean a UBI of £77.35 would all be paid back to the government when a person earns £140,222 a year (the £48.35 value of the Income Tax Personal Allowance would all be paid back as today when someone earns £125,140 a year). When some earns £180,444 a year they will be paying back two people’s UBI. However, if the UBI was £154.70 a week it would make sense to have the £100,000 rate at 60%. This does not overcome other cost issues with UBI.

  • Peter Martin 7th Sep '23 - 11:39am

    @ Michael BG,

    The introduction of a guaranteed job would have to come about with the co-operation of the Trades Unions. I can’t see it ever working otherwise. This would ensure that the rate of pay is enough to keep JG workers out of any kind of poverty – “deep” or otherwise. It also will set a de-facto minimum rate which all employers will have to match.

    Obviously we cannot allow anyone to starve if they have some conscientious objection to doing a day’s work. Therefore the present option of a “Jobseekers Allowance” would have to remain even though it would have to be renamed. The vast majority of unemployed people would prefer to work. The notion that they are ‘bludgers’ or ‘skivers’ is largely a myth.

    The JG scheme can be used for any kind of approved educational or technical apprenticeship course. If we are carers for the elderly or the disabled, a number of paid hours can be allocated according to need. The limits would have to be determined by the democratic process and there is plenty of scope for discussion.

  • The TUC has called for a job guarantee scheme Job Guarantee Scheme Is Essential For The UK Recovery Plan, Says TUC
    I think the two proposals should be linked together, a minimum income guarantee that ensures all working age adult taxpayers and benefit claimants have a minimum tax and NI allowance or UC basic allowance of £100 per week, couple with a local authority led job guarantee scheme targeted at the long-term unemployed.

  • Peter Martin,

    Most healthy working-age people would prefer to be in work than being unemployed true. However, we know that unemployed people will not want to do work which is unsuitable for them, which is why I have a problem with you saying unemployed people should be forced to do work that is deemed by the state to be within their capabilities.

    A guaranteed job has to be a suitable job and there should be no stick used for people to be forced to take such a job. I don’t know how you think ‘having some conscientious objection to doing a day’s work’ would be assessed. You should just accept that any guaranteed job scheme must be voluntary.

    The Liberal Democrats have accepted the principle of having a voluntary guaranteed job scheme with their policies to ‘introduce a green jobs guarantee, offering a well-paying green job to anyone who wants one and providing training courses free to those not in work via a training guarantee scheme.’

  • I would think that any workable job guarantee scheme would have to involve the authorities making a variety of different jobs available, all paying at least the minimum wage, after a discussion of which kinds of work the claimant would be interested in, and is capable of doing, so the claimant can then choose which one they want, with fallback financial support available if the state is unable to provide a suitable job. There would also need to be the flexibility that the claimant could end the work any time if they no longer require the financial support, and could opt to work only the hours that match how much financial support they need/want.

    With that kind of setup, I really don’t see a problem with saying that, if someone wants society (in other words, other people) to provide them with a living, then it’s a two-way thing and they must be willing to provide their time in return. To me, a free and liberal society is one in which everyone has the opportunity to build the kind of life they want – it shouldn’t require that someone of working age can just expect everyone else to work and provide a living for them while they do nothing in return (although in practice we’re talking about a small minority here – I’m sure most people would welcome the opportunity of a guaranteed job).

  • Peter Martin 8th Sep '23 - 8:48am

    @ Michael BG,

    “You should just accept that any guaranteed job scheme must be voluntary”

    I’ve never said otherwise!

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