19 Jan 2015

UK Green Party goes for an Unconditional Basic Income!

Now, here is some good news.

On the BBC's Andrew Marr program yesterday morning, the leader of the UK Green Party, Nathalie Bennett, announced that the party would include the introduction of an Unconditional Citizen's Income in its manifesto. Well done! You can see the interview on Youtube here, and the interesting bit starts after 4:30m.

The party is also famous for including reform of the money creation process in its program, using ideas very similar to the ones proposed by Positive Money.

I understand that the proposals for a Basic Income are similar to those proposed by organisations like the Citizen's Income Trust and Basic Income UK. According to an earlier report in the Guardian , both organisations argue "that the scheme would actually cost less than our means-tested benefits system. It would be paid for by the withdrawal of income-contingent benefits and lowering the threshold at which people people in work start to pay income tax. Some supporters also call for a land value tax. This would mean every citizen could benefit from a basic income of £7,000 (more for pensioners, and those with severe disabilities)."

And in an article in the New Statesman last summer, which talked about the Citizen's Income Trust, suggested that the  "annual spend on benefits should be distributed equally among all citizens, regardless of their income or employment status. Under their proposals, 0-24 year olds would receive £56.25 per week, 25-64 year olds would receive £71 per week and those 65 and over would receive £142.70 per week.

Analysing figures from the 2012-13 financial year, the cost of such a scheme is projected at around £276bn per year – just £1bn more than the annual welfare budget that year –making the implementation of a citizen’s income close to revenue and cost neutral.
Disability and housing benefits would remain intact, but the scheme would replace all other benefits including child benefits, income support and jobseeker’s allowance, national insurance and state pensions. Included in the current annual spend figures is £8bn in Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) administration and £2bn in HMRC tax credit administration and write-offs."

There had been earlier reports that the UK's Green Party were thinking about this. For instance, a report on buzzfeed said that "the exact level of the income has not been set, pending manifesto costing, but a Green party source said it would likely be higher than existing social security payments. Jobseeker’s Allowance is currently £72.40 a week for adults, or £3,765 a year."

This  is all very encouraging. I just wish that the Green Parties in France could be so inspired.

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