Universal Basic Income? - Chair Adrian Alker invites your views on post Covid society
Wednesday 13th May 2020
What changes do we want to see in our country as a result of this awful experience of the coronavirus?
This was the invitation I gave to PCN members in the fifth of our weekly newsletters, back on April 23rd. Already we have received nineteen emails in response and we hope others may wish to take up the invitation to reflect upon what we are learning about our economy, our workforce, our environment, our priorities as a nation. I thought I would try to highlight in the coming weeks some of the wished-for changes which members have written about.
So here is one possible change!
Three members have specifically advocated the introduction of a Universal Basic Income. Even before this pandemic, millions of our fellow citizens were living very precarious lives, dependent upon a range of benefits, often pushed into poverty through insecure work in the gig economy. The government is now having to recognise that those workers in care homes and similar jobs, who are earning only a minimum wage, are the most valued in our virus-ridden world as they care for our loved ones. And yet some company executives, even at this time, are pocketing millions of pounds in bonus payments, some living in tax havens are seeking compensation for their businesses from taxpayers money.
Universal basic income when coupled with changes in the tax system to achieve a more just distribution of wealth may be an idea whose time has come – so thinks both Nicola Sturgeon and Pope Francis! Finland has experimented with the idea and currently the socialist-led Spanish government has got plans to roll out a basic income to a million of the country’s poorest households.
Presently our government, to be fair, is pouring money into job retention schemes and is having to face up to some very basic questions about how ALL its citizens can live in security. Might Universal Basic Income remove the whole strivers/skivers binary view of life? Might UBI give peace of mind, a mentally healthy outlook to those who presently lack self-worth? Might UBI approach something akin to the just and compassionate society which Jesus called the kingdom of God? UBI could provide a unconditional safety net, speaking volumes about how everyone is valued for who they are.
Lets carry on this discussion in more detail around UBI. Comments and contributions welcome!
Next time we will look at another of your responses to this crisis. In the meantime keep emailing us the changes you wish to see!