Is the Green Party Citizen’s Income Affordable?

Mark Page, 2015 Jan 23

big_crowdThe Green Party Citizen’s Income
A Citizen’s Income would “replace most existing benefits, allowances and tax credits” and replace them with a simple regular payment to everyone – children, adults and pensioners.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/GRN_uk_manifesto.pdf

UK benefit spending: how much in 2011-12?
In the year 2011-12, the UK government spent £443bn on benefits.
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/08/uk-benefit-welfare-spending#_

What was UK population in 2012?
“The population of the UK was estimated to be 63.7 million in mid-2012.”
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk–england-and-wales–scotland-and-northern-ireland/mid-2011-and-mid-2012/stb—mid-2011—mid-2012-uk-population-estimates.html

So how much could we have each?

  • The Greens aim to sweep away most benefits
  • Citizens are free to be economically productive and are, therefore, all potential tax payers
  • One simple payment organised by NI number should be much cheaper to administrate than the current raft of complex systems
  • Costs of the current system are likely to rise anyway – despite the optimistic noises made by mainstream politicians

I reckon myself to be sharp on the old mathemo-matics but this one doesn’t stretch me too far to be honest. So: £443bn / 63.7 million = £6.8k pa + a bit for efficiency = £7.5k ?

Remember that this allows for every citizen of this country from the day they are born until the day they die (the Greens also propose increased income for retirement). Put it another way, an income of over £20k for a couple with one child, no questions asked, plus whatever they can earn from the capitalist economy on top (after taxes of course!)

My view is that the Green Party’s adoption of the Citizen’s Income is most definitely not a “state magic fairy” solution. Universal income, even if smaller than my fag-packet calculation, still represents a transformation in economic fairness in the United Kingdom by removing hideously complex benefits systems that give great advantage to the “benefits professional” and disadvantages those unaware of, or embarrassed by, their benefit entitlements.

It would remove senseless arguments over which of us deserves which slice of the benefit pie from the political debate, freeing us to discuss more grown-up matters.

It would also remove fear from the lives of countless millions of people in this country whom, like any citizen on this planet, have the right to: “enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.”

In practice, of course, such radical changes must be phased in; the Green Party has strategies for this. Perhaps it is time for us all to seriously consider the detail. Coupled with a mandatory living wage, we might actually be able to transform our economy into something that really looks viable for the 21st century.

Would a citizen’s income be better than our benefits system?
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/10/tax-benefits-citizens-income-self-employment

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