My apologies to our blog readers. It’s even longer than I thought since I wrote a blog post for the Citizen’s Income Trust’s website. In fact, it’s over a year. And there’s been quite a lot happening, so it’s time to catch up.
Last March we took part in the People’s Parliament initiative, and packed out the House of Commons’ largest committee room. Professor Guy Standing (responsible for the Namibian and Indian Citizen’s Income pilot projects), Natalie Bennett (leader of the Green Party), and John McDonnell MP, all spoke at the event, and a lively discussion ensued. (For a report, see our last Citizen’s Income Newsletter )
And then in June we had the same speakers at a conference that the British Library invited us to put on, along with Dr. Tony Fitzpatrick from the University of Nottingham, and a panel of speakers from the GMB trade union, the New Economics Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Compass. Working groups during the afternoon laid the foundations for the Citizen’s Income Trust’s work for the next few years, and in September the trustees will be finalising a strategy based on those discussions. (We’ll be publishing a full report on the conference in our next Newsletter).
And there have been other conferences, too: The BIEN conference in Montreal in June, and then the Social Policy Association conference in Sheffield earlier this month, which also gave space to discussion of a Citizen’s Income.
There’s been growing interest in Citizen’s Income on the internet. Here’s one recent example from Dylan Matthews, who writes for the Washington Post, another from the same source, and another from the Washington Post.
But it’s in the UK that we need to see a lot more discussion, and a lot more public understanding of a Citizen’s Income and its many advantages. We are an increasingly divided society; Universal Credit might have been a useful step in the direction of a Citizen’s Income, but the combined complexities of means-testing, inter-departmental computing, and people’s employment and household patterns, mean that it’s in trouble; and (perhaps connectedly) Parliament is having problems with the way in which the Department for Work and Pensions is publishing statistics on benefits claimants.
All of this suggests that it’s high time for a widespread debate on the future shape of our benefits system. To inform the debate, you might wish to obtain, either for yourself or for someone else, a copy of Money for Everyone: it’s in the Policy Press Summer sale at £5 per copy until the 13th August. And if you would like to help us with the new strategy that we’ll be rolling out next year then please get in touch.
Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director, Citizen’s Income Trust