Citizen’s Income News, Summer 2010

The Prime Minister has appointed Frank Field, a former Labour minister, to chair a Review on Poverty and Life Chances. Mr. Field writes in the Daily Telegraph (5th June): ‘There is … a pressing need to rethink our approach to poverty, and to the state. … If the review is successful, the debate over poverty will give way to a dynamic approach that looks at how we ensure that each individual is able to achieve their best self.

The National Association of Pension Funds has suggested that a ‘new state Foundation Pension should be created, combining the current basic state pension and state second pension. This would be worth £8,000 a year, around a third of pre-retirement income for someone on median earnings. It would give pensioners an additional £25 a week in income and take around 2 million pensioners out of means testing. It would provide a solid floor on which to provide workplace pensions’.

In recent research reported in Social Policy and Administration Peter Taylor-Gooby and Rose Martin show that in Germany and the UK different social security regimes result in real differences in perception: ‘the analysis shows that while respondents in both countries value equality of opportunity as a normative principle, those in Germany are much more likely to argue that an equal opportunity approach requires government to guarantee equal access to basic services. They are also more likely to express concerns about market freedoms which allow those who can afford it better access to health care and education. Real differences in welfare values remain, loosely following differences of regime type, despite the greater emphasis on activation and individual responsibility across European welfare states.’ (Peter Taylor-Gooby and Rose Martin, ‘Fairness, Equality and Legitimacy: A Qualitative Comparative Study of Germany and the UK’, Social Policy and Administration, vol.44, no.1, February 2010, pp.85-103)

Senator Eduardo Suplicy of Brazil reports that the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) held its fourth National Congress in February and that delegates unanimously approved the following as part of the Presidential Program of Mrs. Dilma Rousseff who was acclaimed the PT’s Presidential candidate in 2010: ‘… transition from the Bolsa Família Program to the Citizen´s Basic Income – CBI, unconditional, as a right of everyone to participate in the wealth of the nation, as foreseen in Law 10.853/2004, an initiative by PT, approved by all parties of the National Congress and sanctioned by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on January 8th, 2004’.

In its Socio-Economic Review for 2010: An Agenda for a new Ireland – Policies to ensure economic development, social equity, and sustainability, the think tank Social Justice Ireland offers ten reasons for implementing a Citizen’s Income: ‘It is work and employment friendly; it eliminates poverty traps and unemployment traps; it promotes equity and ensures that everyone receives at least the poverty level of income; it spreads the burden of taxation more equitably; it treats men and women equally; it is simple and transparent; it is efficient in labour-market terms; it rewards types of work in the social economy that the market economy often ignores, e.g. home duties, caring, etc.; it facilitates further education and training in the labour force; it faces up to the changes in the global economy.’ The report recommends that the Irish Government should move towards introducing a basic income system. All initiatives in the areas of income and work should constitute positive moves towards the introduction of a full basic income guarantee system.’