Basic Income – the modern form of Social Security

Tying in with a theme of our meeting in Glasgow tomorrow, we are reproducing part of a blog by Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform. (Reproduced with kind permission of the author.)

“Although the idea of Basic Income has been around for at least two and a half thousand years, it is still unfamiliar to most people in modern Britain. However it is an idea whose time has come. Currently only the Green Party is officially championing it, but it will come to dominate debate about what a fair and sensible system of income security should look like; for it is ideally suited to the modern world and it brings with it significant economic advantages.

What is Basic Income? It is the simple idea that we give everyone an adequate income – unconditionally. Every child, every adult, every older person would gets a basic income – not because they’re poor, not because they’ve paid into some scheme, not because they’ve got special needs – just because they are human and human beings need an income in order to survive. Basic Income is the best way to meet our basic human right to exist.

Is Basic Income affordable? Well, like most things in life, the answer is – it depends. But the easiest way to see how affordable it could be is to recognise that we already do provide people with such an income – but in a complex and perverse manner:

  • Children get child benefit
  • Older people get pensions
  • Working age adults get a mixture of benefits, tax credits and tax allowances

So, for instance, if you are paying 25% income tax, after a tax allowance of £10,000, then this is financially equivalent to being given £2,500 and then paying tax on every pound of your earnings. Basic Income is best thought of as the integration, and simplification, of all the current systems of income security into one universal system.

It is this universality which makes it such an essential reform.”

To continue reading the full article, and for suggestions for further reading around this subject, visit Dr Duffy’s Basic Income blog.

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