Watch: new report on Universal Basic Income presented to Shadow Chancellor McDonnell

John McDonnell
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell receives ‘important’ new report on UBI from Dr Guy Standing

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to a new report, ‘Basic Income as Common Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy’, said:

This report is an important contribution to the debate around inequality, austerity, poverty and how we establish a fair and just economic system.

There have been pilots of ‘basic income’ elsewhere and Guy Standing has looked at them and come forward with proposals.

Whatever mechanism we use, whether ‘basic income’ or another, we have to lead in developing a radical mechanism aimed at eradicating poverty, but also means testing.

We are grateful to Guy Standing for shining a light on these problems, which have been exacerbated by a near decade of austerity.

We will be studying the contents and recommendations of this report carefully as we put together our reform policies for the next Labour government.

On tax, McDonnell added:

The next Labour government will increase income tax on the top 5%, the people who can afford it, who can pay a little bit more.

But we will also tackle tax dodging and reverse some of the giveaways to the corporations.

Only Labour will fairly tax the rich and giant corporations to end austerity, fund our public services properly, and rebuild our economy so it works for the many, not the few.

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  1. Equality. Inequality. What interesting concepts. How are they assessed & by whom? What do we mean Equality & do we assess a person as an individual or as part of a group? Seems we judge people via a system of crass generalisations, not by who they are but what, so they may be compared to others of similar appearance. We are all equal? Determined by perceptual straight-jackets by a sociologist on steroids.

      1. My criticism is not about universal benefit, but about the use of language. I hear the word ‘equality’ spoken & see it written over & over again but I wonder if the user knows what it means? It’s become a goal that can never be attained or just more words as meaningless as Rock n’ Roll? Another meaningless cliche that we all love & strive for but………….what does it mean?
        Positive discrimination programmes are based on such linguistic abuse as we categorise & label individuals out of existence……….a straight-jacket for perception will render us blind.

    1. A bit like the term ‘socialism’ as used here 🙂

      However – somehow language has to be used, with all the caveats and imprecision.

      1. “somehow language has to be used” indeed,it would be difficult to convey meaning without it.

      2. …….when in doubt spout cliches, like all politicians do…..as well as journalists; economists……………………..Language can be a useful tool when sharp & precise, but when it is blunt & generalised it is just marks on paper or noises made by mouth.

    2. Universal Basic Income/Citizens Income, in its many forms, is an ideological “bleed through” from the tax avoiding far neoliberal libertarian Right. Beloved as an idea by the Silicon Valley billionaire oligarchs amongst many. All part of the “shrink the state – everyone is personally solely responsible for their place in life” nonsense. It is a basic rationing system – ignoring the huge wealth disparities in our capitalist society underlying income inequality – giving lots of people who have no need for a basic income, some cash – whilst denying those with huge needs – the disabled for instance, no access to the sort of high cost individually tailored care a properly funded UK welfare system used to provide – and could do again.

      We need to fight for a humane, well-funded, welfare system and continued universal NHS, not get drawn into this diversionary neoliberal individualist liberal drivel. The Greens got shredded during the 2017 General Election once put under hard questioning about their ill-thought UB proposal. All the research actually shows that it is the MIDDLE CLASSES that benefit – and the very poorest end up even poorer – unless there is a very comprehensive means testing system in place to allocate extra cash for great need – exactly the thing that the UB/Citizens Income enthusiasts always claim isn’t needed with UB ! We need to tax the rich to pay for a comprehensive , needs based humane welfare state , not allocate a small ration of cash to everyone regardless of need . What is socialist about UB ? Nothing . John McDonnell is showing poor, gimmicky, politics here – pandering to the middle class Left Liberal cohort in our Party.

      1. “Excellent comment.”

        Or not.

        “John McDonnell is showing poor, gimmicky, politics here – the middle class Left Liberal cohort in our Party”

        You can see the crap left in the woods by the local teddy bears – commonly known as ‘bullshit’. It has its key markers and smell.

        Meanwhile – back on Planet Earth ….

      2. UBI works perfectly and perfectly fairly once the previously-privileged leave prison asset-free, have passed out of re-education college and are welcomed back into the community.
        They might even be half-decent people once their heads have been straightened out.
        And if they’re not… Madame G will be waiting.

  2. Well I think its a lot easier to identify inequality than you think.If a person is in chronic pain and is able to attend a consultant privately he/she will quickly be given drugs to help manage the pain. A person in similar pain who can’t access private medicine will on a waiting list to see a consultant and will be in pain a lot longer. Thats inequality.Similarly with access to education, jobs housing. We are living in a very unequal society where people can blow tens of thousands on holidays, parties and weddings while others are destitute.
    Even if you are one of the ” let them eat cake” brigade you have to recognise that history teaches us such inequality is not good any of us and governments should try to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots. It is in everyone’s interests to do so.

  3. Interesting, coming just a day after a report from the New Economics Foundation & Public Service International – Universal Basic Income: A Union Perspective http://www.world-psi.org/sites/default/files/documents/research/en_ubi_full_report_2019.pdf reached negative conclusions about the impact on inequality. This study claims to be the most comprehensive review of all the pilots of UBI around the globe and found no evidence of positive impact. In fact, many of the pilots of UBI that exponents cite are not really UBI at all. As the report warns – beware of UBI, which is championed by many Neo-liberals for good reason.

    1. However – note the following rider, that is immediately vitiated by simplicities about “diversionary neoliberal individualist liberal drivel.” from those who have nothing to offer in practical terms other than windy rhetoric as the embodiment of ‘socialism’ :

      “We must not alienate the majority of UBI proponents who genuinely seek to build political power to tackle inequality, support
      the welfare state, deal with precarious work and fund public services.”

    2. The means test was seen as a humiliation by the two generations preceding mine, I was told because the administrators’ inquisitorial questions and attitudes were intended to be humiliating.
      I’d have no truck with paying the rich child benefit, state pension or any other payment intended to be redistributive though, so when I’m elected Dictator for Life I’ll insist on means and needs tested entitlements.
      Like the man said, “…according to his means/needs.”
      If UBI is chosen in the post-employment era that can’t be the end of the story – there’ll have to be other need-based entitlements.
      “Entitlements” not “Benefits” by the way. Benefits have a history of being taken away by government jobsworths to earn brownie points.

  4. Yes agree with JP and I share those concerns.
    Need decent incomes and benefits for all plus a 35 hour working week leading to 4 day weeks and retirement
    for all at 65 (60 for manual workers).
    And make rich and big business pay their full tax and close loopholes & tax havens.

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