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Thu Feb 9, 2017, 12:53 PM

Universal basic income - what do socialists say? [View all]

Source: The Socialist, by Judy Beishon, Socialist Party executive committee

The idea of welfare benefits being replaced by a 'universal basic income' (UBI) has resurfaced in recent years - a welcome discussion because it raises the fundamental right of everyone to have an income that meets their basic needs. Exact proposals vary but they are all based on the idea of everyone in society receiving an unconditional, tax-free, regular payment, regardless of whether they are working or the composition of their household (see appendix below).

Discussion on UBI is centuries old, but today campaigners point to a new urgency due to the growing precarious nature of employment and the threat to jobs from automation. More and more workers face the insecurity of having no set minimum hours of work or are being paid 'by the task'. Many who do have full-time contracts are not paid enough for a decent standard of living.



Supporters of a 'progressive' UBI say it would:

Secure everyone's right to a basic standard of living

Reward the huge amount of unpaid care and voluntary work

End means testing and benefits sanctions

Give women greater independence, as they would be paid as individuals rather than as part of a household

Mean no financial disincentive to work, as UBI would not be withdrawn

Be simpler than the present benefits system

Give workers a safety net allowing them to more easily risk switching jobs

Make it easier to make ends meet when taking strike action

Enable reduced working hours, creating more jobs for others and allowing more time for innovation, leisure, political activity, etc

Read it all at: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/935/24401/08-02-2017/universal-basic-income-what-do-socialists-say

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