Tag Archives: citizens income

Why the Liberal Democrats must adopt Universal Basic Income

To be quite blunt, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about where it’s all gone wrong for the Liberal Democrats. I’ve been a member of the party for seven years now, three-quarters of a decade no less, and in that time we have scarcely polled into the double digits.

Amongst the young, the people who you may think would be the natural supporters of an anti-Brexit, progressive party, the outlook is especially bleak. In the latest Times tracker conducted by YouGov, a mere 4% of 18-24-year-olds plan to vote Liberal Democrat at the next election. The number shoots up to a comparatively lofty 7% of 25-49-year-olds but it’s still nowhere near good enough for a party such as ours.

It’s time to face a stomach-churning truth. The Liberal Democrats are not a party that speaks to modern Britain, and we most certainly do not represent Britain’s future. Not the way things stand, anyway.

As someone who is (just about) inside that 18-24 bracket, I think I’ve got a decent idea about why the party has haemorrhaged youth support so drastically (and no, it’s not just about tuition fees – although that is a huge factor as I wrote for the New Statesman in 2015.)

In my view, it comes down to this. When my generation was growing up, we were all sold a story, the same story our parents were sold. Specifically, the story that if you work hard, apply yourself and ‘get on’, then you’ll do well. Our parents bought into that story because it was broadly true for them. But we aren’t buying into it because it’s a lie for us. Millennials are the first generation set to earn less than our parents, so I think we can be forgiven for thinking that the system has not worked.

And it is this broken system that, to me, explains my generation’s disinterest in the Liberal Democrats and our collective adoration for Jeremy Corbyn. The Liberal Democrats want to make the system fairer. But Corbyn wants to tear the system down. That is his appeal, and it’s why we are falling by the wayside.

But we can beat Jeremy Corbyn at his own game. Liberals can remake the system too, and liberalism can provide a much more empowering and inspiring future than socialism ever can.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 113 Comments

Jenny Willott writes: Is Citizens’ Income the answer to the failures of our social security system?

I recently wrote a piece for Lib Dem Voice about “Mending the Safety Net”, the policy paper on social security which will be discussed at conference in Brighton.  One of the issues raised in the comment on the piece was, understandably, why the group ended up not supporting a move to a Citizen’s Income.  Rather than a long comment on the original piece, I thought it would be helpful to explain the groups view in a separate post.

In a nutshell, the Citizen’s Income pays the same amount to every resident, regardless of whether they are in work or not.  There is no means testing and no conditions apply to those receiving the payment.  Every citizen receives the same amount, although in some schemes there are different amounts for children, working age adults and pensioners.  There are a number of different monikers and different ways of doing similar things, such as Negative Income Tax and Universal Basic Income, most of which we looked into, but for simplicity I’m just going to refer to ‘Citizen’s Income’ throughout.

At first glance it seems simple and easy to administer, and could help put an end to the divisive ‘them versus us’ narrative that has infected the debate on welfare.

That is why I and many others on the social security group were initially very attracted to the idea. We read a lot about it and invited a number of people who have advocated the policy to give evidence to the group. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 65 Comments

A Liberal Path Towards a Basic Income

Is the Basic Income an idea whose time has come?” asked Caron, back in February and it seems now that two-thirds of the British public agree.

The advantages seem to speak for themselves: a universal cash payment from the government, means that no one needs to starve, no one is trapped in a bad work situation, and perhaps most important from a Liberal point of view, puts the choices in the hands of the recipient not leaving them beholden to the generosity of the government.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 47 Comments

An end to benefit fraud – the Liberal way

…the plan we are advocating amounts essentially to this: that a certain small income, sufficient for necessaries, should be secured to all, whether they work or not…

Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads To Freedom, 1918

There are two types of benefit fraud going on. There’s the sort that the Daily Mail and various populist TV shows enjoy making a song-and-dance about. Then there’s the more prevalent fraud, with targets to deny people the money they and their families need to live, to “sanction” them on flimsy pretexts, to require people with mental and physical disabilities to undergo lengthy and stressful appeals processes.

Providing a small unconditional income to everyone in society addresses both of these frauds – and incidentally means that much of the demeaning, embarassing, arbitrary, and extremely costly assessments can be scrapped.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 42 Comments

Opinion: Universal Basic Income is the way forward for the Liberal Democrats

Following a post by Nick Barlow a couple of weeks ago, a number of Liberal Democrat members have got together in support of the Universal Basic Income. In this post I wanted to outline some of the reasons UBI can and should become the cornerstone of our party’s welfare policy.

Universal Basic Income is a regular unconditional tax-free payment made to every citizen regardless of their situation. Most models have it varying only with age- the under 21s get less, the over 65s get more- and naturally it replaces the large majority of existing benefits including pensions and unemployment benefit.

Posted in Op-eds | 85 Comments

Opinion: A radical, liberal vision

Liberal democratsNick Clegg has set out his Liberal vision and I think it is inadequate as I see his vision as mainly about pursuing less pure liberal economic policies and education. Education policy has been a big part of our appeal. A penny on income tax for improvements to education was a good policy. It resulted in the Labour government putting a penny on National Insurance to pay for improvements to education. The pupil premium in 2010 has been implemented by the Coalition government. However we shouldn’t reply on education policy …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

Book Review: Money for Everyone

A Citizen’s Income Convincingly Argued

In ‘Money for Everyone’, Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, and is articulate and readable. His main argument is that, given widespread acceptance of a benefits scheme of some sort, then a Citizen’s Income is by far the best option. Specifically it avoids the disincentives of very high marginal deduction rates of current benefits which create the familiar unemployment and poverty traps. According to Torry, a Citizen’s Income would incentivise employment, training, new business formation, women’s …

Posted in Books | 39 Comments

Opinion: Time for the Party to propose the Citizen’s Income

The Centre Forum paper Taxing Decisions discusses the pros and cons of tax credits and tax allowances. The report reviews tax options for tackling the income and wealth disparities which have become a feature of British society in recent decades.

Reducing the level of inequality benefits everyone in society, rich and poor alike. I would argue that in an inclusive and more equal society, all citizens should pay tax on their income. Means tested benefits have not delivered for us. Child poverty, and unemployment are entrenched with the resulting societal breakdown. The way out of poverty is work. The best …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments
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