Will John McDonnell win the argument to give every citizen in the UK a basic income?

John McDonnell: 'I think we’ve got a long way to go in developing the proposal and the argument but I think we can win the argument on it' [Image: Getty].

John McDonnell: ‘I think we’ve got a long way to go in developing the proposal and the argument but I think we can win the argument on it’ [Image: Getty].

There are big questions about the Universal Basic Income project – and they need to be answered.

Principle among these is how much would be paid, and how would a government ensure it kept up with the cost of living?

What would happen if the economy suffered a downturn? How would it be supported?

And what would happen if a government came into office that did not support the policy – such as the Conservatives?

The last issue is the basic problem with all social reforms legislated by Labour; the instant the Conservative Party gets back into government, the dismantling process begins and we’re all back to Square One.

The notable exception has been the NHS, but after nearly 40 years of neoliberalism, they have launched an attack on even that – under a strategy of denying the consequences of their actions.

For this – or any social gain – to take hold, it seems we need a fundamental change in the way government is allowed to rule.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted he can “win the argument” on universal basic income – a radical idea to transform the welfare state – within the Labour party.

The Hayes and Harlington MP said the policy could tackle issues related to poverty and simplify the welfare state.

Universal basic income would involve ditching means-tested benefits in favour of an unconditional flat-rate payment to all citizens, whether they are in work or out of work.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, plans to trial the concept are underway after a budget statement declared: “As Ontario’s economy grows, the government remains committed to leaving no one behind.”

Source: John McDonnell: I will win the argument to give every citizen in the UK a basic income | The Independent


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5 thoughts on “Will John McDonnell win the argument to give every citizen in the UK a basic income?

  1. Dan

    A Universal Basic Income scheme need not be much more expensive than the current mess, and could potentially cost less while still delivering better outcomes because so much of the cost of the current benefit system is wasted on administration and means testing.

    A universal flat rate payment could be almost wholly automated, thus saving money.

    Most types of fraud would become impossible, so the investigators, snoopers and checkers could be laid off, saving even more money. The only type of fraud that would remain possible is that in which one person has multiple identities – less easy than it once was, and we may reasonably hope to eradicate it in the fullness of time.

    We wouldn’t need Jobcentres any more – close them all down and save a fortune. Employers can find other ways to advertise, maybe even by taking out adverts in struggling local newspapers and giving them a much needed boost.

    At the same time we could get rid of the sadistic and pointless “back to work” schemes to “deal with” the largely mythical “benefit scroungers”. Work would always pay without any recourse to complex bureaucracy, and there would be no more money wasted on the parasitical “welfare to work” industry.

    It wouldn’t be the “money for nothing” that detractors claim because you simply take it back off people whose incomes mean they don’t need it via the tax system. Remember, everyone would get the Universal Basic Income, paid automatically at the same rate, so it can safely be assumed for tax purposes making the process very simple and again making it ripe for automation.

    That’s without taking into account the wider potential savings and benefits to society. No more benefit sanctions and no more people slipping through the cracks could mean reductions in aquisitive crime and a reduced burden on the NHS, for instance.

  2. chriskitcher

    I agree with John McDonnell completely but in addition to the issues that you mention there has to be a concomitant attack on Tax dodgers with extreme penalties for those who choose to avoid their dues. This applies particularly to the tax avoiders and evaders that we are so liberally graced with in society today.

  3. Barry Davies

    Highly unlikely it flies in the face of the current anti disabled sick incapacitated and unemployed attitude that the tories have engendered by attempting to make out everyone unable to work is a scrounger

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