What Is a Citizen’s Basic Income?

A Citizen's Basic Income is an unconditional income for every citizen.

A Citizen’s Basic Income is sometimes called a Basic Income (BI), a Citizen’s Income (CI), a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a Social Dividend, or a Universal Grant.

At its core, it is based on the principle that every individual should always have a minimum (basic) income floor that ensures survival. This is achieved by implementing a regular cash transfer to all qualifying citizens/residents. But for any transfer scheme to properly be considered UBI, it has to be:

  • ‘Unconditional’: A Citizen’s Basic Income would vary with age, but there would be no other conditions: so everyone of the same age would receive the same Citizen’s Basic Income, whatever their gender, employment status, family structure, contribution to society, housing costs, or anything else.
  • ‘Automatic’: Someone’s Citizen’s Basic Income would be paid weekly or monthly, automatically.
  • ‘Nonwithdrawable’: Citizen’s Basic Incomes would not be means-tested. If someone’s earnings or wealth increased, then their Citizen’s Basic Income would not change.
  • ‘Individual’: Citizen’s Basic Incomes would be paid on an individual basis, and not on the basis of a couple or household.
  • ‘As a right of citizenship’: Everybody legally resident in the UK would receive a Citizen’s Basic Income, subject to a minimum period of legal residency in the UK, and continuing residency for most of the year.

Every week, or every month, everyone would receive their Citizen’s Basic Income into their bank account. It would start when they were born, and it would stop when they died. The amount would change as someone’s age changed, each year the amount would rise slightly, and while someone was a child their Citizen’s Basic Income would be paid to their main carer, as Child Benefit is now – but otherwise no changes would be required between birth and death.

Next: Why do we need it?