Friday, August 15, 2014

Universal Basic Income vs the current welfare system

In this article I'm going to set out the case that a Universal Basic Income based welfare system would be a massive improvement on the current punitive welfare bureaucracy in the UK.

What is Universal Basic Income?

I've already written a fairly comprehensive article explaining Universal Basic Income, so for the sake of brevity I'm not going to go into masses of detail about it again here, other than to say that it is a form of unconditional welfare payment to which all citizens are entitled.

Ideally the UBI payment should be set at a rate which covers the basic costs of living (housing, water, energy, food) meaning that nobody would be forced to live in abject poverty in 21st Century Britain. Those wanting anything more than a frugal and very basic standard of living (stuff like foreign holidays, expensive furniture, new cars, fashionable clothes ...) would have a strong incentive to work in order to pay for their luxuries.

One of the main benefits of a universal, unconditional welfare payment would be the removal of virtually all of the costly means testing bureaucracy from the welfare system. Another benefit would be the near complete elimination of welfare fraud, which would free up teams of fraud investigators to go after much bigger fish such as tax-dodgers and organised crime networks.
What is wrong with the current welfare system?

There are so many flaws in the current welfare system that it would be literally impossible to list them all in a blog post. It was in bad enough shape when New Labour left office in 2010 but after four long years of Iain Duncan Smith's hopeless mismanagement, it is now a humanitarian disaster of bad planning, poor implementation and dehumanising bureaucracy. For the sake of brevity I'll limit myself to detailing just four of the worst aspects of the current welfare system, and how the introduction of UBI would represent a significant improvement.