Citizen’s Income

As a follow up to the press release on the Living Wage, this is to point out that ultimately the Green Party support the introduction of a Citizen’s Income (sometimes called “basic income”).

The Green Party advocate introducing a Citizen’s Income as it would eliminate unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work.

The Green Party also believe that every person should be entitled to basic material security. Providing a Citizen’s Income would help to eliminate poverty.

In a short interview on the Citizen’s Income Trust website, http://www.citizensincome.org/index.html, Malcolm Torry (Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust) gives a description of what Citizen’s Income is. He says:

Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non withdrawable income for every citizen.  What that means is that every citizen would get it, whatever their earnings, whatever their household structure, whatever their employment status, whatever their gender, whatever…they’d all get exactly the same, so it is unconditional.

It is non withdrawable.  That is, if your income goes up, you don’t get it taken away, like you do with means tested benefits now.  The way we do things now is just awful, because if you earn additional income, you get your benefits taken away from you. That is not much of an incentive to earn additional income to support your family.

Though there are various suggestions related to funding citizen’s income, Malcolm Torry suggests a simple way in which it could be brought in, at an introductory level, without costing anything extra.  He says:

At the moment, if you are earning an income, you get a tax allowance. If instead of having your tax allowance, you had no tax allowance but were paid a cash payment, it could be worth exactly the same to you, so simply changing people’s tax allowances into cash payments would give them a citizen’s income.

If you were on means tested benefits you could turn them into citizen’s income simply by removing the earnings rules.  You would no longer have it [benefits] withdrawn as your earnings go up.  There is a sense in which citizen’s income is a couple of minor administrative changes in what we do. That’s how you pay for it to.

On the Citizen’s Income Trust website there is also an interesting long interview with Matthew Torry, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRt5dE2GsDY

In this interview he speaks about why we need a Citizen’s Income in more depth. He says that society has changed in relation to work and family setups which makes aspects of the welfare reforms introduced by Beveridge in the 1940s no longer appropriate.  He also addresses criticisms of the idea of a Citizen’s Income.

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If, like the Green Party, you agree that Citizen’s Income would be a good idea, please  sign the European Citizen’s initiative which calls for an exploration  of Citizen’s (Basic) Income as a way of improving social security systems.  Thank you.

https://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/REQ-ECI-2012-000028/public/index.do

More information on the Citizen’s Income can be found on the Citizen’s Income Trust here:

http://www.citizensincome.org/index.html

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