Two new reports advocate Universal Basic Income with little concession to disability

Sun,17 March 2019
News Benefits

We highlight the pros and cons of each report...

Both reports are not really concerned with financial support for disabled people - which raises questions about inclusivity. Instead, they relay on a parallel benefits scheme to paper the cracks in a UBI system.

Recently Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) produced a report, UBI: Solution or Illusion?, which noted that UBI, by itself, would never cover the additional costs of disability or be too expensive and difficult to distribute. This means that with any UBI scheme it is likely that additional payments would remain part of a benefit system.

DPAC argues that this could lead to that system being more repressive to save money. Their solution is for a redesign of the current system - and who can argue with that?

Unfortunately once Brexit dies down (will it ever?) it is likely that whichever government is standing will once more be revisiting the benefit system and seeking to remedy the shortfall in savings that previous 'initiatives' have failed to deliver.

  UBI: Solution or Illusion?

Report 1

Basic Income for All: From Desirability to Feasibility

A publication by Compass

Basic Income for All offers two models

Model 1, the fast track route

Under this model the government would pay £60 per week to adults aged 18–64, £40 per week to mothers for each of their children (aged 0–17), and £175 to adults aged 65+. Eligibility would be based on residency. Child benefit and the state pension would be abolished, but other parts of the existing social security system, including means-tested benefits, would be retained. These sums would be guaranteed, with no questions asked, irrespective of work status.

Model 2, the slow track route

This model would boost the long-term funding for a basic income scheme by creating a targeted citizens’ wealth, which could gradually improve basic income payment levels over time.

Advantage for disabled people - means-tested benefits being awarded with no questions asked, irrespective of work status.

Disadvantage for disabled people – The report seeks to postpone disability and housing costs issues till  a later date, with no detail.

Report 2

Nothing Personal: Replacing the personal tax allowance with a weekly national allowance

New Economics Foundation

This report proposes giving people a £48.08 “weekly national allowance,” amounting to every adult over the age of 18 earning less than £125,000 a year. The cash would not replace benefits and would not depend on employment.

The weekly payments would be fully funded by the abolition of the tax-free personal allowance.

The policy idea has been welcomed by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and the Green MP Caroline Lucas, and would mean that as many as

Advantage for disabled people – The report claims 88% of all adults would see their post-tax income rise or stay the same, helping to lift 200,000 families across the country out of poverty. Those on benefits, who see little or no gain from tax personal allowances would see a rise in income. The money is on top of the existing payments system and there may also be gains if you are working and getting universal credit.

Disadvantage for disabled people – There are no proposals which address the inadequacy of the current benefit system both financially and in terms of the disability tests.

Two reports on Universal Basic Income