Universal Basic Income: a sensible economic response to Covid-19

Offering a stable basic income to all, without the risk of people falling through the net has been a good idea for a long time. It’s become a compelling one in the face of the economic consequences of Covid-19

A closed corner shop: what about the people who worked here?

The idea of a Universal Basic Income is that the state pays something to everyone, regardless of circumstances. It needs to go with a changed tax system, so that the money is taken back again in tax from most people.

It means that, if people fall on hard times, they stop paying the money back in tax, rather than needing to claim benefits. This matters because there are inevitably flaws in the design of any system of benefits. People can fall through the gaps, whether those are oversights or bureaucratic errors, and face destitution. The five week delay before receiving Universal Credit is a good example. There was credible reasoning behind it, but the number of people needing help from food banks in that period shows that that reasoning was flawed. Not being sure where your food will come from or how to keep a roof over your head does real and long term harm to someone. With a Universal Basic Income, bureaucratic mistakes mean that the tax authorities get their money a little later — which does a lot less harm.
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Covid-19, Brexit, and denying reality

Pretending Covid-19, Brexit and climate change don’t matter: why do some people need to ignore reality?

On 24 March 2020 Paul Bullen, formerly leader of the UKIP group on Cambridgeshire County Council, put out a jaw-dropping tweet where he said:

“Isn’t it about time we stopped this nonsense. The majority don’t care about Covid-19, don’t care if they catch it and know that it won’t have any adverse effects. Do we really want to kill our economy? Let’s get back to work, open our pubs and restaurants and get back to normal.” (click to view tweet)

After the Brexit party chose not to stand candidates against sitting Tories, Bullen became an independent candidate in Huntingdon Constituency in the General Election, where I stood for the Liberal Democrats. He took a position that was strongly in favour of Brexit. In hustings he repeatedly claimed that climate change, though real, is not the result of human activity, and that, if elected, he’d not be beholden to any party line, but would speak for his constituents.

I don’t know Bullen well enough to speculate on what he actually thinks, and note that this twitter account seems to have been deleted.

What this does crack open an interesting question about a set of attitudes on Brexit, Covid-19 and climate change more widely.
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