We know that there is nothing very significant about the decade digit clicking over between the 31st December 2009 and the 1st January 2010, but as much of the rest of the world is reviewing the past decade, so we are taking this opportunity to review the Citizen’s Income Trust’s work during the past decade and also to look to the future.
Since 2001 we have published the Citizen’s Income Newsletter three times a year, kept our mailing list up to date, maintained a library, responded to numerous requests for information, and updated our website (which receives between 200 and 400 unique visits a day). We have also run successful questionnaire surveys of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, organized an essay prize, participated in conferences, submitted evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s Benefits Simplification inquiry (and printed the evidence as a booklet), published a leaflet/poster for students, and run a seminar series. We have done all of this on a shoestring budget and voluntary labour, and we are enormously grateful to the many people who have helped us with all of this activity.
Some questions about future activity
We would be interested in our readers’ responses to a number of questions:
Our first question is: During the past decade much of our activity has been reactive rather than proactive. Should we now be planning to be proactive? – that is, should we be creating opportunities for debate rather than waiting for them to present themselves?
A little while ago the trustees developed a plan for a commission on the reform of the tax and benefits system and on a Citizen’s Income as a particular reform option. The process would be to gather expert groups to tackle particular issues related to the feasibility, desirability and implementation of a Citizen’s Income; to publish working papers; to consult on the working papers; to fill gaps in research which the consultation revealed; to hold a conference or conferences; and to publish interim and final reports. An important inspiration for these ideas was the large number of respondents to our House of Commons and House of Lords questionnaire who asked for a commission of inquiry of some kind to study the tax and benefits system as a whole and the options available for its reform.
So our second question is: Is now the right time to undertake such a project?
If the answer is ‘yes’ then our third question has to be:
Where should we seek the financial and human resources which we shall need in order to carry out such a project?
Funding our kind of work is particularly difficult because the promotion of debate on tax and benefits reform is not among the grant-making criteria of any grant-awarding trust.
The fourth question must be: What help might you be able to give with either funding such a project or offering expert voluntary labour?
So, please tell us what you think.