It’s a problem with social media that there are so many ways to respond, so people following this blog won’t necessarily get to see the comments that people make on Twitter and in other ways. Some of the criticisms that people made yesterday were directed at my Evil Assertion that the best way to deal with the loss of jobs was to make jobs. Another person challenged my argument that Basic Income wouldn’t leave poorer people better off if it got knocked off their benefits – we’ve seen this before, because it’s what used to happen to Child Benefit. “I’d like to see Professor Spicker’s basic income proposals that leave poor people no better off, as I have seen none-such that do that.” So here are a few.
Reed and Lansley, authors of the Compass schemes, do their best to hold losers to the minimum (7% of the second income decile for their Scheme 1, while about a third are no better off.) They explain:
“it is not possible to design a scheme that is revenue neutral, pays a decent sum and withdraws most means-tested benefits without significant numbers of losers.”
Malcolm Torry is Director of the Citizens Income Trust, and the author of a clutch of recent books on Basic Income. He has produced three schemes for the CIT, labelled A, B and C. (The RSA scheme is also based on the CIT models.) He acknowledges that there will be losers:
“A feasible way to implement a Citizen’s Income showed that in 2012/13 a Citizen’s Income of £71 per week (with less for children and young people, and more for elderly people) could have been largely funded … but that at the point of implementation such a scheme would have imposed losses of over 10% of disposable income on 21.12% of low-income households (defined here as households in the lowest disposable income decile). … In relation to schemes A and C, while it is true that the high losses imposed on households at the point of implementation are the result of the complexity of the current tax and benefits scheme, and not of the Citizen’s Incomes, such losses would make the schemes impossible to implement.”
Scheme A would leave 28% of the lowest paid households worse off by more than 10% of current income, Scheme C would leave 29% worse off. Scheme B is the one that leaves existing benefits in place, and takes BI off them; while scheme B largely avoids losers, the poorest who currently receive benefits will remain in the means tested system.
That’s six schemes so far. Neither Reform Scotland nor the Green scheme do the same kind of modelling, but while they aim to be more generous, which is one of the ways of reducing dependence on means-testing, both abolish Tax Credits. There will be losers as well as gainers.