(Want to play Policy Bingo? Just leave a comment or drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks to Delia (at ImagineDPM) for asking about this one! – No.17 – The Citizen’s Income.
Green Policy #17 is – as luck would have it – the Citizens Income! This is a basic income where everyone is given a weekly income by the state! Sound crazy? Think about it. It used to be called Unemployment Benefit, often called the dole, and now Income Support – which has its own message that you should be ‘out there’ earning money. What if we turn it on its head and pay a basic income to EVERYONE.
What’s that message? It’s one of respect, trust, valuing and equality.
This is the Green Party plan and it costs… about the same! It’s not means tested which will save a lot of money and the bureaucracy behind it. This largely pays for it. Job interviews, job centres, etc, all become optional and could be slimmed down in areas. A citizen can choose to do “formal” work on top, or not. At a certain level of income, ie. the better off, pay it back through tax codes.
Policy #17 is set at about £120 per week, all costed, and I can send you the spreadsheet if you like. In addition, we are exploring ways of factoring in housing allowance to this too since a place to live should also be guaranteed to its citizens by the state.
I like the Citizens Income because it changes the relationship of individual to the state – especially the mentality. It says explicitly: “We value you just for you being a citizen within society.” And in monetary terms too. And that that citizenship isn’t dependent on whether you have a formal job, 9 to 5 or whatever. Nor is it dole any more, with you having to be ‘available for work’ or to clock up so many interviews.
Instead of welfare, to stop you going under in a dog eat dog society, it becomes a basic income giving you more freedom to live your own life, make your own choices and think about what calls to you as to how you spend your time or define your career. It gives independence rather than the paternalism of “We’ll look after you cos you’re skint”, etc. It’s a real mark of trust in people and their decisions. And… it solves the problem of unemployment, doesn’t it?