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Hello…I am/we are….I’m/We’re here from Basic Income Ireland to talk with you about basic income.
[talk through slide – each line opens on click]
[talk through slide – each line opens on click]
[talk through slide – each line opens on click]
So why might you think that giving everyone a Basic Income is a good idea? We want to suggest three main reasons why Basic Income would be good for Ireland.The first has to do with the idea of a caring society.In a caring society, ….surely no one should be deprived of their basic needs, no matter what their circumstances – BI makes sure of that.A universal basic income will guarantee everyone basic financial security.The very idea of a BI reflects our shared moral responsibility for meeting basic needs and our capacity to care for eachother.
But the idea of BI isn’t just a matter of social justice. It also makes sense economically.A BI is good for a modern economy.For unemployed people, basic income guarantees the incentive to take up employment, because their income from working will always be greater than their income while unemployed. Basic income does away with the poverty traps that can give people more income for being unemployed than for being employed.People on part-time and short-term contracts don’t have to worry about having no income during periods of unemployment. It gives financial security to people working on family farms. For self-employed people and start-up entrepreneurs, basic income provides the income security necessary for innovation and establishing new markets. If their businesses fail, it provides a safety net that protects them from having no income.For employers, it reduces costs and bureaucracy and supports flexible working arrangements. It eliminates the poverty trap, thereby ensuring that no one will be better off unemployed. It supports full-time and part-time study so people can develop their skills.It provide support for full-time carers, whose work underpins every economy.It provides support for artists, volunteers, activists and social innovators whose work is important for the social economy but is not sufficiently valued by the labour market. It is more efficient than the present system because it eliminates the unproductive administrative and human costs of the present social welfare system.3. A universal basic income will improve everyone’s quality of life. It gives everyone more freedom to choose how much of their time. Some people may want to live frugally and to consume less; others may want toput more energy into paid work and to have a higher material standard of living.Basic income gives everyone more control over the balance between paid workand things that make life worth living. It give everyone the opportunity for taking time out of employment, and to choose the work, paid or unpaid,that we find most fulfilling, and to avoid the kinds of work we find morally orsocially unacceptable.
But the economy is not an end in itself. What really matters is that a universal basic income will improve everyone’s quality of life. It gives everyone more freedom to choose how much of their time. Some people may want to live frugally and to consume less; others may want to put more energy into paid work and to have a higher material standard of living.Basic income gives everyone more control over the balance between paid work and things that make life worth living. It give us all the opportunity for taking time out of employment, and to choose the work, paid or unpaid,that we find most fulfilling, and to avoid the kinds of work we find morally or socially unacceptable.
OK, you might say, but surely that’s impossible? Wouldn’t it be really expensive?Well, there are many, many possible models of the finances of basic incomeHere is one model of how it might work, that has been put together by Social Justice Ireland.They made their calculations based on the idea of a basic income that matched existing social welfare rates such as child benefit, job-seeker’s benefit and the state pension.That is below the level of basic income we would aim for, because social welfare payments and particularly child rates are very meagre – it is what we would call a Partial Basic Income. But it would go a long way towards a full basic income.Most importantly for the moment, it represents the level of payment that the Irish state currently considers adequate, so no one currently relying on benefits would lose out.Under current payment scales, working age people get €188 a week, pensioners get more and child benefit is a lot less [details below if needed…]Now, Social Justice Ireland calculated that this system could be paid for, without any cost to other government expenditure, by a 45% tax on all other income, replacing the current combination of tax, universal social charge and PRSI. Basic income itself is not taxed.It is important to note that this calculation was based on leaving all other state expenditure – on public services, capital investment, and so on unchanged. That 45% may seem a lot, but you have to remember that that tax will be offset by people’s basic incomes, as we’ll try to show. The next few slides give some stylised examples of how that works.[details if required] Payments based on Social Welfare rates 2012 - Rate per weekChildren aged 0-17 €32.30 (2102 child benefit rate)Young adults aged 18-20 €100 – could be conditionalAdults aged 21-65 €188Older people aged 66-80 €230.30Older people aged 80+ €240.30The SJI proposal includes some conditional benefits paid from a Social Solidarity Fund to ensure that no one was worse off than under existing programmes.
Let’s start with the easiest case, which is a single person who is on what the Central Statistics Office says are about average earnings at the moment of €700 or €36 k / yr.
To take another example, here is how BI would work out for a relatively high-income family with a weekly income of €1600, or 83,000 a year.The net tax they would pay is still only 17% of their gross income.
If we turn to a middle income family – a family that is in the middle of Ireland’s household distribution – you can see that they would benefit from a basic income system by about €80 a week.
For a low income family, the benefit would be much more substantial – increasing their income by over nearly two-thirds.
As this slide shows, there would also be a gain for low-income single parents, though less than for households with two adults in them.It’s important to remind you that all these figures are based on the very restricted assumptions used by Social Justice Ireland in their calculations, namely to pay basic income at current social welfare rates. So it does not spell out exactly how a full basic income would operate, but it is the most complete calculation to date of how basic income could be financed.These figures do however give a sense of the difference that changing the system would mean in terms of tax and income. So it gives a reasonably good idea of what the general effects of basic income would be.Broadly speaking, we can distinguish between the effects on people’s incomes and the broader effects on their quality of life.[next slide]
The likely effects on people’s incomes, compared to what they are in the current system is this.[talk through slide – bullets on clicks]So in terms of income, some people would be affected positively or negatively and most people would not be affected much one way or the other.Exactly how people would be affected depends on the details of how Basic Income would be financed.
But when it comes to people’s quality of life, it’s clear that everyone has something to gain from basic income.[talk through slide – bullets on clicks]
It is important at this stage to mention a few qualifications in relation to what we’ve been saying . [bullets on clicks]The first is that Basic income is just one policy that has a lot of good features but it won’t solve everything. It is one piece of the solutions to the issues facing Irish society. Secondly, although Basic income is by definition enough to live a decent life, the level of payment is will always depend on what the society as a whole is comfortable with. It will also depend on economic circumstances. The current levels of social welfare payment are what the Irish state currently considers adequate, but many people do not. How much more generous a basic income could be is an open question.The third qualification is that there are lots of different ways of constructing a basic income scheme. For example, the Social Justice Ireland calculations are done on the assumption that all of basic income is funded through income tax at a single rate. There is no reason in principle why we should not choose income tax at progressively higher rates for higher incomes, or a different mix of taxes. That is a matter for political decision. Similarly, although everyone who is now resident in and taxable in Ireland or eligible for social welfare would be covered by basic income, it is a matter of political decisions to work out who else would qualify, such as recent migrants or asylum seekers. These questions arise for all tax and welfare programmes.
The next thing we’d like to do is to ask you to think about your own situation – or imagine yourself into another one – and think about how basic income would affect your life. You might be….[click for all categories to appear. read them out]How would your life be different if you were receiving a basic income? Take a minute to try to envisage what basic income would mean to you….[pause]All of which leads to two big questions that we would like to talk with you about [next slide]Great, so all that leads to some general questions for you:
[read out – questions come on clicks] Why don’t you take a few minutes to talk these over with the people around you and then we can have a general discussion.[take questions and encourage discussion][Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to that but you will find out. Encourage people to offer their own answers. Adopt a spirit of collaboration and collective ownership. ]Thank you - we hope that has given you a good sense of what basic income is about and your questions have also been useful for us.Before we finish, we wanted to say a little more about ourselves as a group and how you can get involved….[next slide]
[talk through – bullets open on click]If you’ve found today/ this evening interesting, there are several ways you can get involved [next slide]
[bullets open on clicks]You can find out more and join our mailing list by visiting our website at…You can find us on Facebook at…You can follow us on Twitter or send us a tweet at…Thanks for your participation, today / this evening – we look forward to seeing you again.