Tag Archives: UBI

As Johnson plans a new national lockdown, Universal Basic Income is back on the agenda

Money: Three million people went without because Rishi Sunak refused to try a Universal Basic Income pilot scheme in May. More than a milliion children will go hungry over Christmas because Sunak wants them to starve; will he force starvation onto millions of adults as well?

Rishi Sunak is facing renewed demands to pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme in the UK, after it was revealed his boss Boris Johnson is considering another national lockdown to try to halt the march of Covid-19 across the UK.

Johnson – and Sunak – rejected those demands back in April, and millions of people fell through the gaping holes in their support packages for people who were financially disadvantaged by the lockdown.

The Financial Times reported that more than three million people went hungry back then – as This Site pointed out in this article.

Meanwhile, Spain launched its own version of UBI in July, amid much discussion in the UK media. Those right-wing sources have been very quiet about it ever since, which suggests that it has been a success and they don’t want you to know.

The letter from the Cross-Party Parliamentary and Local Government Working Group on UBI has been signed by 520 elected representatives.

It says: “Millions of people have fallen through the cracks of the government’s support packages.

“The pandemic has left countless families facing poverty and extreme hardship.

“Many civil society leaders believe that Universal Credit, which has itself been linked to high mortality rates, is ill-equipped to support people through the financial insecurity arising from the recession we are about to enter.

“Economic shocks from financial, social and environmental crises are likely to continue for decades to come.

“Now is the time to act.

“The creation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) – a regular and unconditional cash payment to every individual in the UK – could be the solution.

“A UBI would build resilience into our society and our communities, while providing the stimulus we need to rebuild our economy.”

I like this bit, which uses the Tories’ own slogans to make its point [I’ve bolded them up for clarity]: “It would level up towns and cities across the UK, allowing us to build back better.”

“With unemployment set to increase amid a shrinking job market, we urge you not to underestimate the wider costs to society of rising poverty and joblessness. These include the ripple effect of increased mental and physical health expenditure, as well as higher policing costs exacerbated by poverty. These will far exceed the costs of putting in place a Universal Basic Income.”

Back in April, the Tory excuse for avoiding UBI was that it discourages people from seeking work, but This Site revealed at the time that this is nonsense; it means people don’t have to take jobs for employers who undervalue the work they do.

Perhaps the Tories are more concerned that, having squeezed the economy so hard over the last 10 years in order to take money from working people and give it to their exploiters employers, there may not be enough to pay those who are willing to work the amount they demand, if others take the option of subsisting on the absolute minimum instead.

That’s their quandary; they have made it for themselves.

Sunak and Johnson have already caused a public relations disaster for their government and the Conservative Party by demanding that poor children be forced into starvation over the Christmas school holidays.

The choice before them now is between starving huge numbers of the population at large and causing a slight financial inconvenience to employers who happen to be Tory doners.

I don’t think they’ll make the right decision. Do you?

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Spain approves Universal Basic Income – and it’s more than UK sick and disabled get

Universal Basic Income: the Spaniards are getting it (in Euros, obviously) – why can’t people in the UK have it?

Only a few weeks ago, Tories were delighting in claiming that no other nation had adopted a Universal Basic Income scheme in response to calls for the UK to adopt it during the Covid-19 crisis.

Now they can’t say that any more.

And the amount being provided to Spanish citizens will be more than people on the normal rate of Universal Credit, on Employment and Support Allowance, or on the lowest rate of Personal Independence Payment (if I recall correctly) – around £95 per week.

If anyone is wondering how we reached a point where Spain supports its people better than the UK, just remember we’ve had more than 40 years of right-wing governments and they have laid us low.

Spain’s cabinet has approved the creation of a national minimum income, according to a government spokesperson.

Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias told a news conference on Friday the creation of a minimum income worth €462 (£416.92) a month will target some 850,000 households or 2.5 million people.

The government would pay the monthly stipend and top up existing revenue for people earning less so that they receive at least that minimum amount every month, he said.

Source: Spain approves national minimum income scheme | The Independent

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Coronavirus is concentrating discontent with the benefit system – but does that include sickness and disability?

It seems the knives are out for Universal Credit.

But while academics think in terms of justice for all, Tories don’t.

Even if they accept changes to their flagship benefit, how likely is it that they will allow an end to their favourite pastime – torturing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

As for bringing in a UBI – Universal Basic Income that will mean nobody goes without food, clothes or a home… The Tories are sure to tell us: go whistle.

Or am I reading them wrong?

Radical changes to the welfare system are historically associated with major crises and events such as wars, civil unrest, famines or epidemics. There is no reason that it will this time be any different, says a new paper from Dr Stephen Davies, Head of Education at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Redefining the State of Welfare argues it is very probable that Coronavirus will bring to a head discontent with the existing system that has been growing for some time and will lay bare its weaknesses, particularly that of its central element: Universal Credit.

Source: ‘Very unlikely’ Universal Credit will survive the Covid-19 pandemic – Welfare Weekly

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Coronavirus: Starmer’s Labour abandons thousands to fall through gaps in the Tory benefit system

He’s all right, Jack: Keir Starmer has an enormous salary as an MP and leader of the Opposition, plus £10,000 extra that MPs voted for themselves in order to work from home – all at the taxpayers’ expense. He doesn’t care that the same taxpayers who funded him have been left with nothing because of the coronavirus lockdown that his Parliament imposed.

Well done, Keir Starmer! What a socialist you are!

Labour’s new leader has said it would be inappropriate to impose a Universal Basic Income (UBI) benefit system during the coronavirus crisis.

This means people who have been deprived of their income by the Tories imposed lockdown are condemned to live without any money until the lockdown ends – possibly for some time after, while the nation picks up the pieces.

Mr Starmer seems entirely relaxed about this u-turn – he had previously demanded a national “income guarantee scheme” to fight the economic impact of Covid-19 and still says the benefit system isn’t fit for purpose.

His spokesperson has said that Labour will “be making arguments for a new settlement that is more simple, more effective and offers proper protection to people” after the lockdown ends – when it is no good to the people who need it most now.

Last month, Labour MP Alex Sobel led a cross-party group of more than 170 MPs and lords in demanding a move to UBI.

Spain has introduced UBI – and did so while that country was facing its highest level of coronavirus infection and deaths.

Labour’s election manifesto last year – which Starmer obviously supported – included plans to pilot UBI across the UK, with areas including Liverpool and Sheffield bidding to test the scheme.

And the new Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, is also said to be a supporter of the system.

But Starmer has said no.

Starmer is happy for thousands of people to fall through the huge gaps in the government’s current system.

Starmer is happy for them to starve.

Perhaps that’s what we should call him from now on: Starmer the starver.

Source: Labour rejects idea of universal basic income during Covid-19 crisis – LabourList

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Coronavirus: Three million people go hungry because the Tories won’t introduce Universal Basic Income

 

Radical solution: It’s unlikely that the government would really want us to adopt the methods of Hannibal Lecter, but its current policies are little better.

The Financial Times almost got it right.

The bit that says

More than 3m people in Britain are going hungry

I think we can all agree with. But

because of the coronavirus crisis

isn’t quite right.

The research the FT quotes says that many families have been pushed into poverty because the lockdown means they have suffered “stark drops in income” – but isn’t this because the Tories have tried to cover the loss of employment income with a patchwork of policies that don’t cover everybody and are spectacularly complicated to administrate, rather than simply bringing in a Universal Basic Income that is simplicity itself?

According to the FT, researchers at the Food Foundation found that six per cent of surveyed adults – equivalent to three million people, said someone in their household had to go without food during the last three weeks because there wasn’t enough food.

The same survey found 16 per cent of respondents – equivalent to 8.1 million people, said they had faced food insecurity of some kind – but, again, I’m going to have to take issue with the survey (and the report), because where it says

as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

I would say it’s as a result of the measures brought in by the government in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, the sharp rise in food poverty is not

being driven by self-isolation and a lack of money as an unprecedented economic shutdown leaves millions of workers newly unemployed, furloughed or dependent on government support.

It is being driven by unworkable policies imposed by a government that is desperate to avoid giving everybody enough money to survive. What’s the thinking behind that?

The survey said three per cent of respondents – equivalent to 1.5 million people, had gone a whole day without eating since the lockdown came into effect.

Half of those who said they were facing food insecurity were struggling because of shortages related to the pandemic, and a quarter because they could not leave their homes to shop.

Those are both government failings; shortages from panic-buying and people unable to leave their homes also being unable to access government schemes that, we’re told, exist to help them.

Around 21 per cent were hungry because they simply did not have enough money, and more than two per cent of respondents, the equivalent of a million people, said they had lost all their income since the lockdown had begun.

The Food Foundation and other charities have called for the government to urgently set up a task force to provide food parcels for those who are self-isolating, and to address the lack of cash faced by those who have lost their jobs, the foundation and other campaigners have also called for an end to the five-week wait for universal credit, and to double child benefit.

Why not just bring in a Universal Basic Income? Then everyone will have the cash they need to buy food, and the government will have the time to set up deliveries for people whose health conditions mean they may not leave home.

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Coronavirus: if Spain can introduce a Universal Basic Income, why can’t the UK?

Money: The UK economy has plenty but it goes to the wrong places and people fall through gaps in the system. Can Boris Johnson be persuaded to bring in a Universal Basic Income that is simple and cheap?

This is an important question: the UK has a larger economy than Spain, so why can’t the UK have a Universal Basic Income like Spain?

Instead – at the moment – we have a series of scheme for people in different circumstances, that are both complicated and costly.

UBI would be easier and cheaper.

But the Tory government won’t have it.

Why? Well, the logical answer is because Tories don’t want to supply a steady income to poor people, in a system that they won’t be able to remove again without public outcry, after the coronavirus crisis is over.

They have already said they think it discourages people from seeking work, but this is nonsense; it means people don’t have to take jobs for employers who undervalue the work they do.

Underlying this, we have evidence that Tories simply like to persecute people, and a conditional benefit system makes this possible.

But the SNP’s Ian Blackford is right – the current patchwork of schemes is full of gaps – and people are being left behind.

Spain has said the system it is introducing is an emergency measure – but if successful it would become a permanent instrument to tackle poverty.

Now, why would the Tories want to oppose that?

Source: Government urged to introduce ‘universal basic income’ after Spain move – Welfare Weekly

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Chancellor’s ‘jam tomorrow’ package for the self-employed is worse than useless now

Rishi Sunak: still discriminating against the self-employed? Why not just bring in Universal Basic Income? Then we can all relax.

How kind of Rishi Sunak to announce aid for self-employed workers who are likely to lose money because of the coronavirus crisis – except he didn’t did he?

He made a vague promise that we (This Writer is self-employed) might be able to get a grant of up to 80 per cent of our profits, which is taxable, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month – but not until at least the beginning of June, more than two months from now.

Oh, but we can claim Universal Credit in the meantime – except we can’t, because thousands upon thousands of people are queuing online and on the phone and the Department for Work and Pensions simply can’t cope with the deluge. We will lose valuable time just trying to announce that we want to claim, and even more in the processing of that claim.

Employees of companies who signed up to the government’s scheme for them can get their money straight away. Why not the self-employed?

Is this some back-handed attack on people who actually contribute to the economy on their own initiative?

Here’s a visual representation of the way Sunak and the Tories expect us to live:

It has already attracted flack.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the delay was unacceptable: “If people cannot get access to the scheme until June it will simply be too late for millions. People need support in the coming days and fortnight. Asking people to rely on Universal Credit when more than 130,000 people are queuing online will be worrying to many people, so there is a real risk that without support until June the self-employed will feel they have to keep working, putting their own and others’ health at risk.”

Stephen Timms, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, pointed out that a wait until June simply isn’t practical: “Few will have enough in the bank to tide them over until then, so they’ll have to rely on Universal Credit in the meantime. The Committee heard yesterday that that system is already buckling under the pressure of half a million new claims. The Government must now do all it can to shore it up, so people get the money they need, and quickly. And the Advance, payable up-front to those who need it, should be made non-repayable.”

Sunak said devising a scheme had been “difficult” and it would be “operationally complicated” – but this has attracted no sympathy from anybody who knows anything at all about it.

It’s the biggest advert for implementing a Universal Basic Income scheme – in which everybody will receive enough money to support them, regardless of their circumstances – that the public could be shown.

Sunak and the other Tories have squirmed and dissembled and eventually brought forward scheme after scheme that is incredibly complicated – which means they are likely to go wrong, to the detriment of the people they are supposed to be helping.

UBI is simplicity itself – and has a lot of support:

UBI – it’s simple, it’s popular, and it’s immediate. But Sunak wants to bring in something complicated, slow (if it actually happens at all) and discriminatory. Why not get in touch with him and tell him which you would prefer?

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Coronavirus: trust Iain Duncan Smith to try to wreck our chances of survival

He laughed: Remember, Iain Duncan Smith laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. He and the other Tories thrive on terrorising vulnerable people and it is this light that we must examine his comments on Universal Basic Income (UBI).

It had to be him.

Iain Duncan Smith, creator of the huge increase in poverty in the UK since 2010, has spoken out against a plan to keep people from financial ruin during the coronavirus crisis.

His prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he would consider introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to help people hit by the financial impact of social distancing measures he has introduced to fight the spread of COVID-19.

It has been suggested that the idea would cost the Treasury £260 billion – less than the £330 billion measures Rishi Sunak has already imposed, in a bid to protect the economy – and industry leaders like Liam Kelly, chair of the Baltic Triangle group of companies, support it.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “UBI isn’t quite as radical as the idea of dropping money from a helicopter, but it’s clearly a plausible solution to the wealth crisis caused by this global pandemic.

“It will help stave off the unprecedented economic challenges we face and protect us from another. This is a sensible fiscal stimulus and it’s time it went directly to the people, not just to the banks.”

But Duncan Smith, whose Bedroom Tax turfed people out of their homes (including vulnerable people who had panic rooms installed to protect them from violent assault); whose Universal Credit, with its five-week wait before the first payment has unnecessarily tipped millions into poverty; and whose doctored assessments for sickness and disability benefits have denied financial security to the most vulnerable people in society, prompting some to take their own lives and worsening others’ illnesses to the point of death… He thinks he knows better.

Following the recent Tory tactic of putting comments behind a paywall on a Tory-supporting newspaper’s website (this time it was the Telegraph), he claimed that UBI would make no difference to the financial struggles of low-income households and would not alleviate poverty.

He provided no evidence to support this wild claim.

He said a guaranteed monthly income would “disincentivise work” and cost an “astronomic amount of money” – even though it is believed to cost £70 billion less than the measures already announced by the Chancellor.

We must remember that these are the words of a man who believes the best way to wipe out poverty is to wipe out people who suffer from it.

Why else would he have imposed policies that push vulnerable people so deeply into poverty that many of them are unable to survive?

It seems clear that he is trying to protect his vanity projects – Universal
Credit, the Bedroom Tax, biased PIP and ESA assessments – all of which would become redundant if UBI were brought in.

And he wants to ensure that we do not get to see the beneficial effects of UBI, even if it is only brought in for a brief, experimental period.

It seems clear that, while the Tories are claiming to be doing what they can in the face of the crisis, the evil that motivates them remains as strong as it ever was.

Source: Former DWP boss Iain Duncan Smith says Universal Basic Income is “unaffordable” and won’t fix poverty crisis – Welfare Weekly

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General election 2019: Labour pledges to pilot Universal Basic Income

 

A Labour government may pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme, possibly to replace the current benefit system, it has been claimed.

In an interview with The Independent, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he intended to include a pilot UBI scheme in Labour’s manifesto – adding that the it would be even more radical than the document that turned around the party’s fortunes in the 2017 election.

Mr McDonnell, a long-term supporter of UBI, said he was looking at including “at least one pilot” in Labour’s blueprint for government:

The concept generally involves overhauling the welfare state by scrapping means-tested benefits and replacing them with weekly or monthly payments to all citizens.

Pressed on whether it was going to be in Labour’s new manifesto [Mr McDonnell] replied: “… Sheffield have really made a big pitch for the UBI, a pilot, but there are a few other places as well. They are the ones really that are willing to look at how they can tackle poverty.”

A report presented to Mr McDonnell earlier this year by Professor Guy Standing, an economic adviser to the shadow Treasury team, highlighted various models a government could use in a pilot scheme of basic income. One included providing every adult in a selected community with £100, and a further £50 for each child per week. Additional benefits would be put in place for those with disabilities.

This could restore hope to the UK’s millions of benefit claimants.

Universal Credit has been nothing but an expensive disaster from the moment Iain Duncan Smith announced it, plunging people who have been forced to claim the new benefit into debt and despair.

Meanwhile, Tory policies on the administration of legacy benefits including – and especially – disability benefits like Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment have been deemed to have caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.

We don’t know how many people have died while trying to claim benefits under the Tory system because the Tories have refused to provide honest answers to our questions.

UBI would change all that.

Instead of being forced to go through the humiliation of a prejudicial benefit assessment system, people would automatically receive a payment to support their living costs.

Those with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities would get appropriate supplements.

And that’s it. No fuss, no humiliation, and hopefully no more despair, destitution and death.

The Conservative Party, which thrives on causing misery, will hate it.

But anybody who has had to endure the current system would be well-advised to vote Labour and bring it in.

Source: General election: McDonnell vows to present Labour’s most ‘radical’ manifesto with universal basic income pilot | The Independent