To think a basic income/citizens wage is a blinding idea?

(149 Posts)
Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 00:27:31

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is that each adult citizen, regardless of their working status, money in the bank etc, gets a basic amount of money for free, each month, for example £1000.

Sounds a bit nuts, but bear with me.

The benefits would be that everyone, whether they are homeless, or whatever, knows they have the security of this money coming in each month. There are no costly administrative procedures in determining whether someone is eligible for benefits, or sanctions for those who break the rules.

But, surely everyone will just sit on their arses and not work? Well no, because actually most people have an innate desire to be successful and do well, and let's face it no one is going to be living the high life on a grand a month. It would actually get people out of the benefits trap, because as it stands people are hesitant to come of benefits because if the job doesn't work out, they have to start their claim all over again, or they might have worked out that they would be hardly anything better off by working, so it's not really worth it. With a basic income, they could work as much as they liked knowing that they will still have this money behind them.

So how will it be paid for? Once you have removed the humongous costs of means-testing benefits, and assessing fitness for work with disability benefits, and all that, well that's the government a good few quid up, right there. Also bear in mind that the fund currently used to pay benefits would just be transferred to pay basic income. Raise corporation tax which the coalition sneaked down, and maybe a little bit more tax for the very highest earners, and that's job done.

The theory is, that as it stands, a lot of people have nothing. They are scraping by on the bare minimum of benefits, living in fear of sanctions and being forced into work fare. This way, people would have options, they would all of a sudden have opportunities in front of them to do courses, move to better accommodation, or whatever they needed. It would give people hope. The stigma of being 'on benefits' would be gone, as it would be universalistic. Equality would be massively improved, and with it so would would wellbeing, and health, which would also save the government millions.

I realise with the latest turn of political events there is approximately no chance of this happening, but I think it makes a bucket load of sense.

emmelinelucas Tue 19-May-15 00:33:22

I have heard about this concept, and I think it is a good idea.

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 00:39:15

Thank you. Shall we start a petition? grin

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 00:41:59

Seems to me like the perfect marriage between socialism and capitalism - providing everyone with a decent life whilst still allowing those who want to the opportunity to earn whatever they like, whilst getting a nice bonus every month from the government.

CrispyHedgeHog Tue 19-May-15 00:44:52

I think it's a brilliant idea. There was a thread about a year ago on the same subject with lots of links illustrating where it had been tried before (a town in Canada I think) and really detailed information.

I can't find it now though unfortunately

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 00:49:37

I was watching a Ted talks thing about it earlier and it was saying that experiments have been done all over the world with a lot of success, including with a group of long-term homeless men in London, who pretty unanimously were pretty frugal with their money, and used it to find somewhere to live or better themselves through training, rather than spunk it on drink and drugs as the naysayers predicted.

WorriedMum192 Tue 19-May-15 01:25:42

This is a great idea!

The5DayChicken Tue 19-May-15 01:33:22

Littlefluffy for PM grin

Feminine Tue 19-May-15 01:36:24

I've always thought this was a great idea!
It would make for a much more harmonious society imo.

SoonToBeSix Tue 19-May-15 01:40:10

If it was to replace all benefits what would happen to disabled people or large families , or people in areas of high rent. They couldn't live on £1000 a month.

MorrisZapp Tue 19-May-15 01:42:39

I can't see most MNers being happy with rich people getting free money while poor people stay poor. A thousand quid a month doesn't touch the sides for a family in a three bed house if rent and bills etc to come from it.

BadLad Tue 19-May-15 01:52:07

So how will it be paid for? Once you have removed the humongous costs of means-testing benefits, and assessing fitness for work with disability benefits, and all that, well that's the government a good few quid up, right there. Also bear in mind that the fund currently used to pay benefits would just be transferred to pay basic income. Raise corporation tax which the coalition sneaked down, and maybe a little bit more tax for the very highest earners, and that's job done.

And that's job done? LOL. 40 million or so adults at a thousand quid a month each is 40 billion pounds a month or 480 billion pounds a year.

worksallhours Tue 19-May-15 01:59:01

The problem is the inflationary impact. If everyone has £1000 a month, then £1000 essentially becomes a kind of zero sum, and prices then rise above this level, rendering the whole point of a citizen's income void because that level of monthly income becomes, more or less, worthless.

Such a move would also force wage rises to account for the citizen's income. It would mean that someone who works full time and takes home £1500 would find their labour devalued to a mere £500 in real terms - this sort of thing causes riots.

So an adjustment would be made and such people would end up earning £2500 take home a month, so essentially everything remains the same, only zero is now £1000.

The concept of a citizens income completely disregards the reality of the price mechanism.

IrmaGuard Tue 19-May-15 01:59:33

"maybe a little more tax for the very highest earners". According to a quick google, that would apply to less than 5000 people in the UK, a tiny percentage.

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 02:05:05

But that's the whole point, nobody would be in poverty.

There are various suggestions for how this could be implemented. I've attached a pic of some of the green party's ideas. Children would be entitled to a reduced rate, payable to their parent or guardian, so families would be fine.

As for the figures, there would be huge savings to the country through improvements in people's health, less policing due to fewer crimes and social problems, to name but a few. The economy would be better as with more money in their pockets, people will spend more = more corporation tax. The job market would be better as employers expecting the moon on a stick in return for paying fuck all would have to buck their ideas up, as people would be not so desperate for money.

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 02:10:13

I might have to read that post again in the morning, worksallhours, my brain has just gone into shut down mode grin

Littlefluffyclouds81 Tue 19-May-15 02:12:29

But please keep the critisisms coming I might have an exam on this on Thursday grin

CanadianJohn Tue 19-May-15 02:25:20

A similar scheme was tried in Canada; in the early 70's, I believe. An isolated town in Manitoba was picked for a pilot project.

The idea was to have a sort-of "negative income tax"... if a person worked, they would pay tax in the usual way, but if a person did not work they received money. This scheme replaced all welfare, unemployment insurance, and similar benefits.

If I recall correctly, the scheme was abandoned after a year. An unexpected number of people promptly decided they would accept a lower standard of living, in exchange for more leisure time. In addition, there was quite a lot of barter ("I'll service your car, you clean my house").

I might have a google, see if I can find anything about it.

BTW, I'm surprised no one has mentioned the plight of all those civil servants losing their jobs!

fairyfuckwings Tue 19-May-15 02:29:36

Whilst I would love that to happen 480 billion is a lot of money to find. And personally, I would retire now (aged 42). I think a lot of people I know would who are married, as they'd have their 1000 quid plus the husband's/ wife's 1000 plus the working spouse's income.

And I'm not convinced crime would reduce as everyone would have a lot more disposable income for drugs and alcohol. And a lot of time in their hands!

CanadianJohn Tue 19-May-15 02:42:12

Lots of stuff out there on the Canadian project, which was called Mincome.

The program was designed/run by labour economists, who were not really interested in the social effects, just the effect on the labour markets. However, since people knew the program was temporary, anyone with "a good job" wasn't going to quit and retire to a life of idle poverty.

There was never a final report issued, but perhaps the most significant result of the Canadian mincome test is that it has never been repeated and that a guaranteed minimum income has never been implemented in Canada or anywhere else in the world.

ItsRainingInBaltimore Tue 19-May-15 04:04:59

It sounds great in theory. But is the 1000 per month per adult the absolute limit no matter what your circumstances? Because lots of people now claim much more than a total of 12k a year in benefits, depending on how many children they have. Are they to pay all of their living expenses out of that 12k and if they have more children than they can support then tough? How would you go about deciding how much child maintenance an absent parent would pay?

It would only be a matter of time before someone complained that children were being punished because their parents were too poor, and that the rich should give up their £1000 and give it to the poor.

And it assumes that everyone is equally equipped to go out and find work and it is merely a matter of choice - so what about disabled people? Would they get extra? And by the time you've considered everyone who can argue that they need extra you are back to square one.

I also agree with worksallhours about the inflationary impact making it essentially a zero sum.

The idea has legs, but like every good idea the reality is not as straightforward as the theory.

pod78 Tue 19-May-15 05:13:31

I'm another who can't see how this would work in reality with the inflationary effects etc as others have mentioned.

I can completely see how giving homeless men/ women some money and therefore power and choice in their lives would allow them to start again and regain a sense of ownership and purpose over their lives but I don't think this translates with the same level of benefit to wider society.

It stands to reason that those with the least will gain the most from such schemes, but then if the same group (homeless) were given access to the benefits they currently should be entitled to (ie their benefits not withheld because of a lack of home address) they would be able to gain this already.

Also, a £1000 a month would not allow people to do additional things such as training as it would barely cover living costs - particularly now that the Open University is bloody expensive. It would go further outside the south east where housing costs are lower, but unless a person is living in the cheapest possible living circumstances it just wouldn't leave much left over to really change your life. It might support people to be able to do voluntary internships where they gain experience and maybe a qualification but I'm not sure that this is the way to go - maybe for charities it is ok, but I think it would permeate the wider job market and so the state would eb supporting big business and the money go out of the country. On the other hand, internships are more prevalent these days so it would broaden access to those who don't have rich parents to support them.

Also I agree with itsraining that disabled people will always have extra needs coupled with limited choices and so need extra monetary and/ or social support. So we need to identity those who need extra support in the same way we do now (well better actually!) I actually support the idea of Universal Credit in priciple as being far more effective - it is just the extra conditions that have been attached that render it unfair and restrictive.

Ultimately, I just absolutely CANNOT live with the idea that people like Tamara Ecclestone should get £1000 a month from the state and then would use it go and help fund a million pound crystal bath.

I think we would benefit more from working towards a closed/ circular economy where we import less and money is redistrubuted from the profits of business within the UK instead of money going to outside shareholders/ other countries. That is not the same as being xenophobic or supporting UKIP!!!

rootypig Tue 19-May-15 05:21:34

Universal basic income. OH and I are huge supporters. It'll never happen, but that's because the world is a stupid, annoying place.


LineRunner Tue 19-May-15 05:34:02

Children would qualify for a citizen's income in their own right, presumably?

I think that would be a very Daily Mail concern about this - who would qualify?

But in principle, I like the idea. The whole system at the moment is creaking and universal credit is not the answer.

lljkk Tue 19-May-15 05:45:31

Very crazy idea. Glad to be proved wrong, but outrageous to think that people like us who are financially secure should be entitled to this.

Would each child be entitled to £1000, that headline figure is all some people would see in the story (so see having children as money spinners). Other households who are on high multi-benefits could actually see huge income drops.

Ahem, so we'd have to fund the whole of the EU diaspora coming to Britain, to live 16 in a room sleeping in shifts receiving this £1000? Homeless drug addicts or other insecure types would end up getting exploited to give theirs away. The potential for fraud is enormous.

The attitude would grow up 'You have your money spend it wisely, don't ask the govt to closely advise or help any more' so Milton Friedman type attitude, transferred to vulnerable people expected to use their purchasing power in a situation where they have huge lack of information.

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