Government must honour its commitment to a Basic Income Pilot in Budget 2022

Posted on Thursday, 23 September 2021
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Government can, and must honour the commitment in the Programme for Government to pilot a Universal Basic Income in the October Budget.  A fitting way for Government to mark International Basic Income Week would be to honour its own commitment to a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot in Budget 2022.

A Basic Income differs from other forms of income support in that:

  • It is paid to individuals rather than households;
  • It is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
  • It is paid without conditions; it does not require the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered one; and

The following are ten reasons to introduce a Basic Income:

  • It is work and employment friendly.
  • It eliminates poverty traps and unemployment traps.
  • It promotes equity and ensures that everyone receives at least the poverty threshold level of income.
  • It spreads the burden of taxation more equitably.
  • It treats men and women equally.
  • It is simple and transparent.
  • It is efficient in labour-market terms.
  • It rewards types of work in the social economy that the market economy often ignores, e.g. caring, work in the home, developing one’s skills etc.
  • It facilitates further education and training in the labour force.
  • It faces up to the changes in the global economy.

Social Justice Ireland’s recent study showing how the Government could honour its commitment to pilot a Universal Basic Income found that if the pilot is to have real impact it should be run for a minimum of three years.  If the pilot does not start in January 2022 it will run beyond the term of office of the current Government.  A three-year Universal Basic Income pilot would allow Government to assess the impact of a universal basic income pilot on areas such as market income, ability to develop skills and plan ahead, health, wellbeing, likely impact on labour supply, distributional consequences and the exchequer implications of extending UBI across society.  It would also allow Government the opportunity to develop and adjust the UBI model in light of ongoing evaluation.  This would maximise its effectiveness and allow a detailed and considered assessment of the implications of potentially extending the pilot across society.  Our study also provides Government with the means to deliver on its own Programme for Government commitment to a basic income pilot.

In Ireland, there have been many studies, papers, seminars and much speculation as to how basic income would work and what the effects of basic income might be. Ultimately, the biggest element in these activities has been conjecture.  By committing to a 3 year basic income pilot as proposed by Social Justice Ireland in Budget 2022 Government would provide the first opportunity in Ireland to find out the answers to many of the questions which have been speculated about over a long period.

Download Social Justice Ireland’s study showing how the Government could honour its commitment to pilot a Universal Basic Income