New Event: How to win with Basic Income

At last year’s Autumn Conference, Liberal Democrat members voted overwhelmingly to adopt Universal Basic Income (UBI) as party policy.
Now, we have our first opportunity to make this vital policy part of our campaigning platform for the bumper set of elections coming up on 6th May.
Not only are there council seats and mayoral positions up for grabs all over the country, but there are also the elections for Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd.
So now it’s time for the really big questions:

  • How do we “sell” Universal Basic Income to the voting public?
  • How do we make it relevant in local contexts around the country?
  • How do we hammer home the advantage of being the biggest UK political party to have Universal Basic Income as party policy?
  • How do we clarify that it is a fundamentally liberal idea and use it as a vehicle for the wider story of our party and our values?
The Lib Dems for Basic Income campaign is partnering with the Social Liberal Forum and the Basic Income Conversation to host an event on Tuesday 9th March, from 7.30 pm to 8.45 pm, to explore exactly these questions.
The event will be chaired by Dr Ian Kearns, Director of the Social Liberal Forum and an advocate of UBI, and will be structured into three parts.
In the first, Ian will be joined by Canadian Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith and Tchiyiwe Chihana of UBI Lab Women. They’ll discuss why Universal Basic Income is such an important and powerful idea, its global significance, and its importance in terms of building a genuinely equal society.
In the second, Ian will quiz three key Lib Dem women on how they think we can win with UBI in this summer’s elections: Jane Dodds, Leader of the Party in Wales, Luisa Porritt, our candidate for Mayor of London, and Wendy Chamberlain MP, our Parliamentary Spokesperson for Scotland and Wales.
In the third and final session, we’ll open to the room to hear suggestions, ideas and needs from candidates and activists across the country.
For this event you can sign up HERE

* Jack Haines joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 at the age of 16 and was elected as a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Hull in 2019. He is a campaigner for Lib Dems for Basic Income @LDforBI.

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15 Comments

  • Peter Watson 24th Feb '21 - 4:13pm

    “we have our first opportunity [UBI] to make this vital policy part of our campaigning platform for the bumper set of elections coming up on 6th May. Not only are there council seats and mayoral positions up for grabs all over the country, but there are also the elections for Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd.”

    I can see the relevance of UBI to campaigns for a role in national government in Wales and Scotland but I am not so sure about local government. Why should I care whether or not my local councillor is in favour of UBI?

  • Peter Davies 24th Feb '21 - 4:30pm

    A bigger question than “How do we make it relevant in local contexts around the country?” is “How do we make it relevant in non-geographical communities across the country”.

    There are a number of different audiences for whom UBI holds different attractions. They are to be found in different concentrations spread right across the country and they probably talk more to each other than they do to their neighbours.

  • Simon McGrath 24th Feb '21 - 6:37pm

    The first questions candidates will be asked are : how much will it be, what will the total cost be and who will pay for it.

    How should they answer ?

  • @ Simon McGrath And the second question candidates will be asked is,

    ‘Is it fair that the Queen, and that man Dyson who’s top of the British Rich List with £ 16 billion and shifted all his manufacturing out to the Far East to get cheap labour should get the same as me ?

    Jack Haines is going to have to be very persuasive.

  • Joseph Bourke 24th Feb '21 - 9:18pm

    I would say that the UBI should be set at £95 per week for adults below retirement age and would replace the current personal allowance and NI threshold. This is the current equivalent of the Universal credit basic allowance for under 25’s.
    The UBI would be paid as a tax credit or direct benefit payment. The tax credit can be withdrawn in the same way as the personal allowance is currently withdrawn for those with taxable income over £100k, if desired
    Those with income over £12,500 per year would see no difference in their pay packets or minimal adjustments to self-assessment tax bills.
    Anyone with gross taxable income before allowances below £12,500 will benefit as will welfare recipients under 25 and those on legacy benefits or receiving lower individual benefits as a result of being in a two person household.
    The £95 per week would replaces JSA and Income support (currently £74.35) and carers allowance (67.25) .
    As to who will pay the extra costs, the same as now. Taxpayers as per the current system.

  • Peter Davies 24th Feb '21 - 10:16pm

    Simon McGrath is right that we will be asked those questions and we need the party to produce concrete proposals as soon as possible. It could well end up a lot like Joseph Bourke suggests.

    Other big winners would be those deemed not available for work such as students or the unprofitably self employed.

    I would expect residual benefits to be tapered at a much lower rate to make up for the fact that all income is taxed. Those who are currently both getting benefits and paying tax and/or NI would therefore see their tax rate reduced from 75% to 63%.

  • Rupert Malan 25th Feb '21 - 6:21am

    The important thing at this stage is to seize the ground of its economic viability. Get the figures right & explain how it would work financially with H.M. Treasury stats & the public will believe it (& you) are serious, & it will enable you to refute the predictable Tory charge of “it’s not affordable”. Crunch the numbers.

  • Joseph Bourke,

    I looked at how to fund a UBI of about £48.08 a week and part of this funding was increasing the National Insurance higher rate to 12% from 2%. I wonder if it would be problematic doing this in one go. If this was done and UBI “withdrawn in the same way as the personal allowance is currently withdrawn for those with taxable income over £100k” the marginal rate on incomes over £100,000 would be 62%. I would suggest keeping this higher rate at least until double the amount a person receives is paid back, so no-one can say the partner of a millionaire is benefiting from a UBI. If claimed back at 10% the rate could end at £200,000 and if NI had been increased the over £200,000 rate would fall to 57%. Would our MPs be happy with this as the top rate considering that when in government our MPs made the case for reducing the highest rate of income tax to 45%, with NI a marginal rate of 47%?

    If the UBI was higher than £48.08 a week other schemes suggest all rates of income tax would need to be raised. I think at least one suggested they need to be raised by 5%.
    I don’t think we should abolish the existing benefits when we introduce a UBI, but we should reduce them so UBI plus the means-tested benefit equal the poverty line for a single person. The latest figure I have is £157 a week.

  • Peter Martin 25th Feb '21 - 10:49am

    Simon McGrath has assumed everyone will know what a UBI is with his suggestion that the first question will likely be ” How much will it be?”

    I’d suggest that most voters won’t even know what a Universal Basic Income is, so should be asking “What is it?”. From conversations I’ve had there seems to be a widespread misapprehension that it just another term for a minimum wage.

    You own Mark Pack has written that “Less than one in ten say they know what Universal Basic Income (UBI) is”.

    So we have the absurd situation of UBI proponents claiming there is majority popular support for a UBI even though an even bigger majority don’t actually know what the term means!

    https://www.markpack.org.uk/166694/less-than-one-in-ten-say-they-know-what-universal-basic-income-ubi-is/

  • Paul Reynolds 25th Feb '21 - 4:23pm

    The concept of UBI is clear enough; nearly everyone gets a basic ‘liveable’ income from the state (ie the taxpayer) as a simplified and unconditional form of welfare. This is a perfectly reasonable proposition and I don’t support the view that it should be dismissed out of hand. It is obviously incumbent upon its proponents to explain how it would work in practice, and adoption of UBI as a policy, even a policy for debate, is contingent on a robust explanation of how it would work and what the intended and unintended consequences are likely to be. It would increase the chances of adoption if such calculations are subject to peer review and close scrutiny by neutral institutions (rather than ‘it works in Alaska’ and other such claims where different fiscal circumstances make it difficult to assess its application to the UK). Over the last few years I have read perhaps dozens and dozens of pages on the subject but have not yet seen anything credible, particularly the relationship between UBI (giving out money) and taxation (taking away money) and how this relationship would differ from existing welfare systems. What’s more such a credible explanation and calculations to be persuasive must be clear about the assumptions around what taxation is really for, what welfare payments are really for, and how UBI pursues these aims in a superior way.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th Feb '21 - 5:00pm

    I really do not relate to colleagues referencing the basic income being received by rich people.

    David Raw even mentions the queen! She also is entitled to use the NHS, but saves money by not !

    A universal service is, guess what, universal?!

    David, it is meant to give everyone freedom from starving, by right! No grovel to the Dwp!

    The rich can be taxed more, but the poor can avoid lack of dignity.

    Michael BG, your figures e, on this,are not worth exploring, it must be above a hundred to be worth a jot!

  • Lorenzo Cherin,

    Michael BG, your figurers, on this, are not worth exploring

    Unsurprisingly, I disagree. The most important figure is £157 a week, which is the poverty line. This is the minimum that a UBI has to be so a person can live on UBI without being in poverty. I think it is important to know what income tax rates for those on high incomes come with a very basic level of UBI and to know that it is very likely that these rates and those for everyone will have to be increased if the UBI is set at a level a person can live on without being in poverty.

  • @ Lorenzo Sorry to give you the collywobbles, Lorenzo.

    But it wos not me, Sir, it wos some big boy on the door step wot said it.

    Said he used to be Labour but votes Tory now cos that Macron feller insulted our grate British vacuum jab. He also said, ‘Do u think Prince Andrew shud get it (UBI) now he’s not working enymor ?’ I tried to explain politely but he shut the door on me………

    Anyway, thanks for the info. I didn’t know that’s why Her Majesty goes to the King Edward V11 for Officers hospital to save the rest of us a few bob. Very good of her, I must say. However, I do remember Prince Charles got an NHS specialist to drive out on a 100 mile round trip from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to Balmoral last April.

    “Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus after displaying symptoms and being tested by the NHS in Aberdeenshire.” Aberdeen Evening Express 25/03/2020

  • Lorenzo Cherin 25th Feb '21 - 10:46pm

    MIchael bg

    Sorry I meant 48 pounds was too low, your other figures worth a look!

    David

    It is not inside info what made me say it gov, only a guess!

    Actually the concept is identical to the NHS, it is equality of access. Better than begging for bread from those paid to bully claimants, sorry, advise them!

  • Joseph Bourke 26th Feb '21 - 9:07pm

    It is good to see the Social Liberal Forum taking this debate forward and notable how much of the drive is coming from women both Libdem and Cross-party.
    The passage of the policy through Libdem conference last autumn has certainly helped develop the profile of the policy. This article https://www.wraltechwire.com/2020/11/28/universal-basic-income-has-time-come-for-it-debate-intensifies-in-pandemic/ by by Julia Horowitz, CNN Business quotes Christine Jardine extensively:
    “It was regarded in some quarters as a kind of socialist idea. Covid-19 has been [a] game changer. It has meant that we’ve seen the suggestion of a universal basic income in a completely different light.” The idea — sending cash regularly to all residents, no strings attached — now looks more “pragmatic” than outlandish.”

    “…political momentum for overhauling social safety nets is building. In September, the UK Liberal Democrats — Jardine’s party — voted to make universal basic income a part of their platform, joining members of the left-wing Labour Party in calling for trials. A petition demanding that Germany implement a universal basic income was debated by a committee of national lawmakers late last month.”
    “The Conservative government under Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom maintains that universal basic income would be too expensive and reduce incentives to work, while failing to reach those who most need help. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government has also expressed concerns it could lead to a decline in employment.”

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