The Green Party is first to reveal its manifesto for the General Election. An important part is the proposal to introduce a Universal Basic Income, offering £89 a week to every adult, supplements for disability, single parents, lone pensioners and means-tested allowances for families with children. Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit) will be retained only for existing claimants.
I’m sure that advocates of Basic Income will welcome the direction of movement, but there are problems with the specific proposals. First is the distributive effect. If other benefits are stopped, the financial gains to better-off households far outstrip any benefit to people on lower incomes. This scheme is highly regressive. Secondly, there are the supplements. Disability benefits will require a test; supplements for lone parents will require a cohabitation rule; means-testing for families will inevitably be complex. Third, there is the proposal to freeze Housing Benefit. That means, bluntly, that new claimants (mainly younger people) will not be able to afford housing; and that social housing providers will not be able to provide it. Overall, this scheme will leave many poor people worse off.
4 thoughts on “The Green Party Manifesto proposes a Universal Basic Income”
Thanks for that; will study the manifesto in more detail later. Whilst some form of UBI may be an appropriate long term goal, social security changes in the short to medium term should be focused on more pressing issues such as UC.
Having looked at it, there really isn’t enough detail on UBI to warrant any meaningful analysis. They have not thought it through. PS: Holyrood SSC may be looking at UBI next week (28.11.19).
Are they proposing to freeze housing benefit or to get rid of it for new claimants? Either is nuts.
What they write is this: “People who were reliant on Housing Benefit before UBI was introduced will continue to receive it, so that they can cover their rent.” (p 27) When I wrote ‘freeze’, I wasn’t thinking of freezing the level, but of stopping the clock at the point where UBI is introduced. That could be done in several ways, but it’s hard to see how anything could be done that wouldn’t lead to people on low incomes being worse off.