Universal Basic Income – The case the Liberal Democrats must make

I do not intend to argue that UBI is a sensible, humane and economically transformational policy – its worth as a policy is readily apparent to any and all who have seen the devastation wrought by the pandemic. The inadequacy of miserly and bureaucratised welfare provision has now, for the first time in history, been made abundantly clear to a large swathe of the population who had previously been insulated from the humiliating, degrading, maddening process of claiming their entitlement to income support due to unavoidable job loss or illness.

What this moment represents is an opportunity to project the Liberal Democrats as a party concerned with rectifying this grossly outdated system with Universal Basic Income. The Party would demonstrate its commitment to the issues which are of paramount importance to the people of the United Kingdom: their financial security. No more sabre rattling about the EU; let us leave wading in the constitutional quagmire to the Conservatives and the SNP. It does us no favours to be the eternal champions of a defeated cause – the UK will not be re-joining the EU for decades in even the most optimistic prophecies.

UBI, however, is an immediate issue, out of which the Party could make enormous political capital, but only if we focus our energies on making it the well-honed point of a spear; the Party simply does not command enough public attention or respect to offer comment on the wide array of policies which we commit to. The two most successful political parties, the Conservative Party and the SNP, in the UK have founded their recent success upon their message cohesion – Boris’ ‘Get Brexit Done’ and the SNP’s never-ending commitment to independence. UBI is potentially superior to these platforms in nature – it is a unifying message, not based on division, and, properly communicated, hard to argue with. Show me a upper middle class individual who would publicly announce the low paid logistics, health or social care workers don’t deserve a bedrock of guaranteed economic security.

Message discipline is vital; Liberal Democrat elected officials in every corner of the UK must turn every debate they participate in, every question they ask and every answer to stoking this policy into a great blaze that can catapult us back into relevancy. Not only will this generate media traction, as the commitment is increasingly noticed, but will also focus the Party upon delivering a worthy, radical and effective policy.

 

* Lewis Younie is currently completing my Masters in History at Edinburgh, focusing on British imperial and domestic politics.

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34 Comments

  • The country is in huge debt. It cannot afford a permanent furlough scheme for the entire adult population.

  • Rupert Malan 3rd Feb '21 - 1:18pm

    I’m a militant Brexiteer, who – on the proviso the country’s democratic decision to leave the eu is accepted by the LD’s – would consider voting for you in support of UBI (& I never thought I would say that in a million years, I even voted Tory for the first time in my life in 2019 purely to oppose one of your candidates on the eu issue). UBI is a genuinely radical strategic policy that would transform the way we live in so many ways. It’s the future, and the first party out the blocks in the UK that supports & competently campaigns on it will reap electoral rewards.

  • @ Lewis Younie “Show me a(n) upper middle class individual who would publicly announce the low paid logistics, health or social care workers don’t deserve a bedrock of guaranteed economic security”.

    You are studying history, Lewis, but unfortunately appear to have missed Messrs Clegg and Alexander consenting to such a thing in the following BBC News item, July, 2010 :

    BBC NEWS : “The government has revealed that many part-time public sector workers earning less than £21,000 a year will have their pay frozen for two years. Ministers had previously indicated workers earning less than £21,000 would get a salary increase of £250 as part of efforts to protect the low paid. Ministers have said a pay freeze will prevent more jobs from being lost”.

    They also consented to cuts in the “inadequacy of miserly and bureaucratised welfare provision has now, for the first time in history, been made abundantly clear to a large swathe of the population”.

    I remember it well at the time as an elected Liberal Democrat Councillor in Scotland with the Social Care portfolio.

  • UBI is a wonderful concept at first sight. Who would not welcome regular unearned income? There flows from that all sorts of ways in which it would benefit people.
    But there are downsides too. The obvious one is that the money has to be found and there is only one source and that is the taxpayer. It will be expensive. It gives money to those who do not need it. How can it be better than a system that targets the needy? It is not a logical option.

    There is another downside. Everyone should be encouraged to work. Work provides more than income, it provides purpose, self esteem, friendship, teamwork contribution to the economy, even taxes to help pay for the NHS and other services. We all know that there are many who would welcome UBI to save them from having to work. Perhaps it would help pay for drugs, alcohol and other pastimes. It sends the wrong message to everyone. Why would taxpayers welcome UBI?

    The pandemic has caused hardship but I don’t believe that it provides justification for ongoing UBI. That is taking political opportunism a step too far. Those who support UBI usually see it as a great way to promote the ideals of Lib Dem caring policies. It could however, just be yet another divisive policy where hard pressed tax payers will regard paying the wealthy to be another daft, left wing policy that belongs in the dust bin.
    Finally, rather than this being a good time to introduce such a policy, adding massive cost at this time is probably at the worst possible moment since the end of the second World War.

  • nigel hunter 3rd Feb '21 - 2:51pm

    Rejoining the EU is something for the future. Income support is fine as a safety net but is does not give people a ‘leg up’ to better things. UBI is for today. It can be used for enhancing education by paying for a course. Fund better purchase of good food (crisps are not nutritious) A whole host of benefits that the individual can choose.By being fully supported mental anguish can be alleviated cos you will not be struggling from day to day.Give people purchase power to stimulate the economy. As far as producing the money concerned Quantative Easing can be used. It should not be a hurdle.
    The debt that the virus has caused will be with us for some time but should not deter. It took decades for us to pay off war debt but the country continued. Now is the time or a new direction.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Feb '21 - 3:49pm

    “I do not intend to argue that UBI is a sensible, humane and economically transformational policy…..”

    Why not? Others don’t have a problem doing that. Even if they are misguided in doing so!

    “…..its worth as a policy is readily apparent to any and all who have seen the devastation wrought by the pandemic.”

    So are we talking about a UBI as temporary measure to help those who have done badly to recover from the Pandemic? I sympathise with the motivation. You need to be careful though. The Government has recently spent a lot more money into the economy that it has got back in taxes. That’s why the deficit is high. So it must still be out there somewhere. That means there are quite a lot of people who are doing OK financially. Their problem is there is nothing much to spend it on. They don’t need extra money. They do need to be able to recirculate what they have recently accumulated. That means they need to be able to spend in pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, football matches, hotels etc etc.

    In other words the current situation requires, even more than it does normally, a more targetted approach. You won’t be doing anyone any favours with ‘helicopter money.’ That’s going to give money to those who don’t need it at the same time as creating a problem for all with high inflation.

  • John Marriott 3rd Feb '21 - 4:29pm

    Free money? Oh, not again! For goodness sake give it a rest and move on to something more attainable.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Feb '21 - 4:58pm

    On the up side, pushing UBI would be a great way for the party to get noticed.
    On the down side, being noticed for high public spending policies did not do Jeremy Corbyn any favours (not least with Lib Dems).

  • @ Peter Watson “On the up side, pushing UBI would be a great way for the party to get noticed”. Get noticed for what, Peter ? As in notoriety ?

    From my observations of LDV recently, there is much more interest in chopping down the world’s remaining forests to turn into leaflets to stick through letter boxes whether the poor unfortunate recipients want to receive them or not and whether or not they are concerned about visitors because they are shielding. Hopefully the leaflets might just end up in a recycling bin.

  • Surely now is the time to start looking at this as a serious policy.

    One thing this pandemic has taught us is things are never going to return to “normal”
    Unemployment has been kept low due to furlough, but that is going to end at some point and we are going to see rocketing unemployment numbers with fewer jobs to go around.

    We were already concerned about more and more industries becoming automated in the next 10-20 years. This will probably be accelerated now due to this pandemic and more companies will be looking into this kind of investment.

    Most Banks and indeed any major company are all about increasing profits and lowering costs, they have now seen how remote working can be done effectively, lowering their costs for high rents in major cities and other utilities, indeed many of these banks and businesses have openly said that they will not return all their workers to offices after the pandemic due the increased savings from having them working at home .
    This will of course create lower foot traffic for the high-street, coffee shops, bistro’s etc which again has a knock on effect for other businesses within the same vicinity relying on this footfall.

    We know it’s coming, surly its better to start acting sooner and planning for a scheme to address this, rather than waiting for the proverbial to hit the fan.

    Yes its going to take a lot of money, but we cannot go back to the old tory days of Deserving and Undeserving poor, pitting one section of society off against the other and the dreaded phrase of alarm clock Britain.
    The welfare Bill is going to rocket in the next year and I think we all know what the Tories response is going to be that.
    They might have needed a good dose of socialism to get them through a pandemic, but they sure as heck will be itching to get back to their more traditional attack lines on welfare as soon as they have enough jabs in the arms.

    I think many more people would be open to a UBI, rather than having to claim an unemployment benefit

  • Joseph Bourke 4th Feb '21 - 1:09am

    Universal Basic Income is party policy https://www.libdems.org.uk/a20-ubi

    Caroline Pidgeon has teamed up with Green London Mayor candidate Sian Berry to put the case for the London Assembly to back basic income trials in London. Labourhttps://www.bigissue.com/latest/could-london-introduce-universal-basic-income-in-2021/

    Lewis in her article concludes “Message discipline is vital; Liberal Democrat elected officials in every corner of the UK must turn every debate they participate in, every question they ask and every answer to stoking this policy into a great blaze that can catapult us back into relevancy.”
    You can listen to Caroline’s doing just that here https://twitter.com/CarolinePidgeon/status/1351971666495217664?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1351976261745258501%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es3_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bigissue.com%2Flatest%2Fcould-london-introduce-universal-basic-income-in-2021%2F

  • Peter Watson 4th Feb '21 - 9:48am

    @David Raw
    Get noticed for what, Peter ? As in notoriety ?
    As Oscar Wilde put it, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” 🙂

    there is much more interest in chopping down the world’s remaining forests to turn into leaflets to stick through letter boxes
    I never would have predicted that after Brexit, leaflets would be the next thing that got the party so passionate. Or that I would get so wound up by the reaction that I would feel the need to join the debate on a topic like that.

    On UBI, I’m pretty agnostic. Instinctively/intuitively, I’m won over by the argument that “money for nothing” seems too good to be true, but there are so many clever people that believe it’s a good idea that I can’t rule out the possibility that it might be. A bit like religion, I suppose. And unless the faithful can first convert members of their own party, there’s no chance of evangelising to the wider world, so I expect to see a lot more discussion in these parts.

  • Peter Watson 4th Feb '21 - 9:57am

    @matt “we cannot go back to the old tory days of Deserving and Undeserving poor, pitting one section of society off against the other and the dreaded phrase of alarm clock Britain”
    Sadly, “alarm clock Britain” was a Lib Dem idea, not a Tory one.

  • David Evans 4th Feb '21 - 10:13am

    Peter, If memory serves, I thought “Alarm Clock Britain” was an idea of Nick Clegg! 🙂

  • Paul Holmes 4th Feb '21 - 10:48am

    For a trial of UBI to be really meaningful the trial area would also need to trial the new taxation and benefit changes that would be needed to fund a permanent UBI system. Otherwise it’s just ‘free money’ and who is going to object to that?

  • Peter Davies 4th Feb '21 - 1:51pm

    It’s not just the message that needs to change, it’s who we talk to. The target audience for this policy is not the same as that for our championing of internationalism or civil liberties. There is a great swathe of the population which will benefit personally and tangibly in some cases by several thousand pounds a year. Most of them live outside our current target areas but they are distributed in a way that they form a plurality in a majority of the country.

  • Peter Watson 4th Feb '21 - 1:59pm

    @Paul Holmes “For a trial of UBI to be really meaningful the trial area would also need to trial the new taxation and benefit changes that would be needed to fund a permanent UBI system.”
    I think “permanent” is also an important difference between a trial and the real thing. One criticism levelled at UBI is that it would be a disincentive to work, and a short time-limited trial is unlikely to identify this if the subjects know that afterwards a gap in their employment history might cause longer-term problems. A permanent scheme in Alaska has been mentioned before (a universal sharing of the windfall from oil and gas), but doesn’t involve the level of payments that most envisage for UBI.

  • Ianto Stevens 4th Feb '21 - 7:26pm

    @Peter “We all know that there are many who would welcome UBI to save them from having to work. Perhaps it would help pay for drugs, alcohol and other pastimes. It sends the wrong message to everyone. Why would taxpayers welcome UBI?”

    Sadly, this message has been used since time out of mind to oppose any policy that attempts to rebalance the chances of life that make some of us well off and others poor. This having been said, there will need to be fair and workable systems to deal with the problem of the SMALL minority who (for good reasons and bad) get into financial difficulty. (The wealthy, eg Donald Trump can arrange a profitable bankruptcy!)
    The problem with the minimum wage has surely been that inflation in rents and house prices has stolen from those it is intended to benefit. Clever tax policies are needed to avoid that happening with a UBI. I don’t know if this is possible.

    Targeting benefits has the problem that even the best shots at a target often miss. In the current emergency, benefits have been generous for some whilst arbitrary rules have given others little or nothing.

    For UBI to work, the better off pay more tax, and at some cut off point, pay back the whole value of the UBI. I (perhaps naively) hope that some part of any package would involve increased taxation of wealth/property/inheritance. Hardworking and enterprising people do need to be economically rewarded.

  • Joseph Bourke 4th Feb '21 - 7:28pm

    The Alaska permanent fund points the way to how a Citizens dividend should be funded.
    This article explains Why Land Value Tax and Universal Basic Income Need each other
    Perhaps the most important message is in the conclusion “Perhaps the most important political support that LVT brings to the Basic Income argument is that rather than Basic Income being a ‘benefit’ paid out to people by a benevolent government, it is in fact each citizen’s share of the nation’s natural wealth.To provide a citizen with anything less would be to rob him/her of her rightful inheritance.”

  • Peter Davies 4th Feb '21 - 8:15pm

    @Ianto Yes. There are plenty of taxes we could increase without penalising hard work. Inheritance tax, land value tax, bring taxes on investment income (including capital gains and dividends) up to the same level as earned income. Those would cover a fairly basic basic income but there is little evidence that income tax levels below 50% stop people working to any great extent. People currently receiving Universal credit while paying income tax and NI are facing rates over 80% and most are still up for overtime.

  • Paul Fisher 5th Feb '21 - 4:46am

    UBI is dependent upon the State being able to pay it. This is in question in the UK. Suggest that LibDems start developing policy strategically rather than addressing second order problems.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '21 - 6:10am

    @ Peter Davies,
    The example of “over 80%” marginal income tax sounds very doubtful and would need to be supported. I were to offer someone a fifth of what they normally earn, on a cash in hand basis, I doubt there would be many takers. And the rejection wouldn’t only be motivated by legality of the offer.

    @ Joe Bourke,

    If there is a such a thing as “national wealth” why not just put the dividends towards useful projects sich as the NHS and public education?

  • Daniel Walker 5th Feb '21 - 6:59am

    @Peter Martin “The example of “over 80%” marginal income tax sounds very doubtful and would need to be supported.

    Here you go.

    It’s so bad, even some Tories have spotted it.

  • Peter Davies 5th Feb '21 - 8:11am

    Actually yes. I should have said the over 80% is for people still on the old system. UC has brought it down to 74.85 %. Still ridiculous.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '21 - 7:29pm

    @ Daniel,

    Ok Thanks for the link.

    You and Peter Davies are understating your case. You could have claimed that 100% marginal rates weren’t a disincentive. The link says:

    “After her first few hours of work, Laura loses £1 of Income Support for every £1 she earns, meaning she is no better off for working more. Her effective marginal tax rate is 100 per cent.”

    And the problem for those who put their faith in what might be termed “unconditional welfarism” is that the more generous the benefits the more extensive the poverty trap becomes. The above example is what happens now, and without any UBI.

    This is where the alternative of conditional welfarism starts to look more attractive. All shades of political opinion would claim to have the welfare of its citizens at heart. So the focus should be shifted towards providing a job for everyone who needs a job at a living wage. Those jobs should be tailored towards the capabilities of the individuals concerned. For those who cannot work, because they are too sick, we replace welfare payments with sick pay.

    There will be problems to be worked out. What do we do with footballers, for example, who end their well paid careers at a relatively young age? What do we expect from them? Or someone who has lost a relatively well paid job when they are close to retirement? Can we let them retire early?

    However, they aren’t insuperable. They are much more easily solved than the poverty trap! That one has defied solutions for as long as I can remember.

  • Joseph Bourke 5th Feb '21 - 11:09pm

    Peter Martin,

    national wealth is described in the article “The key to providing a secure and justifiable revenue to fund a Basic Income is a Land Value Tax, along with licences from Common resources such as minerals, airspace, spectrum bandwith, sea resources, public risk underwriting and government licences (which for the purposes of this Deal, we will collectively refer to as ‘Land Value Tax’, although they might more accurately be described as ‘Public Resources Value Tax’.
    The wealth produced by natural resources is a gift of nature. As the linked article concludes “rather than Basic Income being a ‘benefit’ paid out to people by a benevolent government, it is in fact each citizen’s share of the nation’s natural wealth.To provide a citizen with anything less would be to rob him/her of her rightful inheritance.”
    The public services and additional welfare benefits we need are funded by taxation of incomes over and above Universal basic income.
    An equally important point on the article is “A common criticism made of the Basic Income model is that an increase in the income of the average person will simply result in higher rental costs in the economy, which would absorb part or all of any Basic Income payment. If that were to happen, LVT would capture part or all of the increase in rent. The degree to which the increased rent was captured would depend on the level at which LVT is set, but in principle this would provide a simple mechanism to ensure that the population as a whole was benefitting from increasing wealth, rather than just those who have the means to extract rent payments.”
    The level of the “Public Resources Value Tax” sets the level of basic income that will be paid “This funding is more reliable than general taxation as it is based on resources that are unlikely to disappear. The land and these other resources might reduce in value but that would suggest a wider fall in economic activity and a fall in Basic Income would reflect that. However, with an increase in the value of our collective resources would see an automatic increase in the level of Basic Income paid out.”

  • Peter Martin 6th Feb '21 - 10:01am

    @ Joe Bourke,

    Marx is generally known for his Labour theory of value. Simply put, this would mean that the price of a commodity is proportional to the amount of labour which goes into producing it. This would explain why the price of pound of butter might be higher than a bottle of milk. Nevertheless that isn’t the entire story. If the sun doesn’t shine and the rain doesn’t fall the grass doesn’t grow. The cattle will starve and eventually we too. So we all depend on nature as well as human labour.

    Therefore the concept of a national wealth has to be understood as combination of both factors. Yes we all are entitled to a fair share of what we all produce. But we have an obligation to participate in the production process too. This doesn’t mean we all have to churn butter or deliver bottles of milk to the doorstep but we do need to participate, if we are physically and mentally able, in society in a useful way to qualify for our fair share. The cows won’t milk themselves.

    The problem is that capitalism imposes an obligation on most of us to work and make a contribution. Most of us do want to do just that. Where it falls down is in ensuring the equitable distribution of goods and services and the provision of decent jobs for all.

  • Peter Martin,
    There is no country in the world that operates a purely capitalist system. All are some form of mixed economy that combine state provision of public and merit goods and services with free markets.
    Capitalism has pulled billions of people around the world out of dire poverty with the most dramatic recent example being the market reforms introduced by the Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping in an effort to emulate the economic success of Taiwan and Hong Kong.
    As this Irish Times column discusses Want to fix the housing crisis? Tax land “In 1858, during the second Opium War, Britain and France, in cahoots with the other major European powers and the United States, forced China to sign the Treaty of Tianjin. Britain waged the Opium War so its merchants could flood China with cheap heroin, cultivated by other British merchants in India.
    The treaty allowed western trading powers to annex China commercially, emasculate the emperor and carve up the vast wealth of the Middle Kingdom. The Europeans colonised the mainland from the east, while the resurgent US navy, fresh from annexing California from Mexico, moved across the Pacific from the west.
    In 1868, the Japanese responded to the threat of the West with the Meiji Restoration, a cultural, political and economic revolution that was intellectually and socially on a par with the French Revolution.
    At its core was an economic renaissance aimed at moving Japan from a feudal, land-based system, where wealth and power were vested in landowners, to a modern, industrial power based on innovation and trade, where wealth was vested in commerce.
    Much has been made of the Japanese strategy of imitating western technology, but central to that extraordinary turnaround was this internal reform. Alone among major countries, the Japanese introduced a substantial land tax.
    The Japanese concluded that to get the economy working properly for as many people as possible they had to dramatically reduce the wealth tied up in land. They were right.
    Feudal land-based economies, where land, rather than innovation and hard work, is the source of wealth simply enrich a drone class. The drones live off land, push its price up and drive down the quality of life for others, such as renters and first-time buyers.
    As wealth inequality rises and the very wealthy get yet wealthier, more and more people feel their stake in society is diminishing, which drives political extremism. Massive wealth inequality and democracy don’t mix. Land-based inequality and modern capitalism don’t mix either. The Meiji Japanese understood this.
    Ultimately, everything that the capitalist economy produces comes from four inputs: labour, enterprise, capital and land.
    Labour and capital are highly productive, while enterprise is the human alchemy – innovation – that makes everything tick. The more you work, the more money you commit to a project or the more human ingenuity you devote to an idea, the more they all grow. You get more wages, products and initiatives. Therefore, society is better off.

  • Cont.

    Land is different.

    When a landlord buys a site for €200,000, does nothing to it, sits back and sells it on for €400, 000, nothing has happened to make society better off. The landlord is better off, but that’s it. Worse still, the costs of the higher land price are passed on to those who will eventually pay more in higher house prices. This applies as much to publicly-held land as it does to private landlords.

    A substantial tax on unimproved land held by both the public and private sectors would fix this. If we do nothing to the tax system we will facilitate more money flowing into this most useless of assets, starving the productive economy of liquidity and investment.

    It will also enrich a drone class at the expense of working people and keep house prices rising by leaving large sections of essential building land lying fallow. Ultimately the more tax we raise from land the less tax we must levy on income, which will in turn increase the incentive to work. This is how we can regenerate the economy, driven by an ancient concept called the public good.”

  • Peter Martin 6th Feb '21 - 3:14pm

    @ Joe Bourke,

    “There is no country in the world that operates a purely capitalist system”

    This is true. Nevertheless the system, whatever you want to call it, requires us all to work to be able to afford anything more than the barest of bare necessities. Which is fine for those of us who are able bodied and have had a good enough education to be able to compete in the labour market. Anyone who has a condition like Down’s syndrome has no chance. So a priority for making it fairer has to be the guarantee that everyone will be able to work with a living wage paid in return.

    “Land is different.”

    It isn’t really. Land will only provide an income providing someone works it in one way or another. So it’s the work that provides the income. A rentier will expropriate some of the labour power of those work the land for his own ends. Surplus value in Marxist terminology. Just like a capitalist will expropriate some of the labour power of workers in his factory for his own ends. The principle is just the same.

    Some modern day Liberals have a hang-up about land because this was the contentious bone of dispute in the 19th century between the Liberal Capitalist classes and the Tory Land owning rentier class aristocracy. Naturally they didn’t see why the aristocracy should profit by simply renting out their land. A proposal to fund a UBI by imposing a tax on land is simply a proposal to make rentiers out of all of us. That’s never going to work. We can’t make a living by renting out land to each other. Someone, somewhere has to do something.

    This is not to say we shouldn’t have a LVT. I’d prefer nationalise the lot and rent it out to whoever needs it! But that’s not going to change very much. Those cows will still need milking. Those fields of corn will still need harvesting. Someone has to do the work to produce anything of value.

  • Joseph Bourke 6th Feb '21 - 3:40pm

    Modern industrial farming requires comparatively little labour input and represents a small faction of GDP. The issue is urban land in the towns and cities where the vast majority of the population live and incur the costs of economic rents.
    As wages and/or benefits increase the Lion’s share of those increases are absorbed by land rents in the form of housing and/or business costs that are passed into consumers.
    A UBI funded by general taxation would be a distribution to landowners. It is called the
    incidence of taxation. The supply of land is limited. The demand for housing far exceeds the supply available.
    A UBI funded by Land Value Tax (LVT) solves this problem. LVT, uniquely carries no or very little deadweight costs that are a drag on economic growth. It does this by recycling increases in land values into a UBI so that two countervailing forces balance each other out.
    Work continues to be done as now. The difference is you get to keep more of your earnings as disposable income is not continually being eroded by an increasing proportion of land rent capture.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '21 - 6:28am

    @Joe

    This thread is supposed to be about a UBI rather than your pet cure-all Land Value Tax. I can’t see that going down at all well with your wealthy voter base in the SE of England.

    The principle is very simple. Ask any councillor. There are lots of jobs that they would like to see done in their towns and burroughs but they don’t have the money to do them. So why not tackle poverty by paying workers a living wage to do them? Sure a LVT can be a part of that but it’s separate issue.

    This way we get those jobs done and the provision of them sets a minimum standard which the private sector has to match. Paying out sums of money to those who don’t need financial support solves nothing at all.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '21 - 10:36am

    “Burroughs” ? I thought that didn’t look right, afterwards, but it was too late to change it to “boroughs”! Actually it is still OK. Just an older form of the spelling.

  • James Fowler 8th Feb '21 - 12:35pm

    Oh God… the UBI conversation again. The parameters are well known and have been discussed n times on this blog and elsewhere.

    I think that Lewis is absolutely right about how maddening and degrading this process of claiming benefits is, and also correct that peoples’ experience of that will change attitudes to some extent. However, I think that this will result in a temporary (though welcome) relaxation of the welfare system rather than the motivation to entirely change the underlying principles on which welfare is based.

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