Sunday, 30 April 2017

Ontario UBI trial to begin this summer

The Canadian province of Ontario will launch a trial run of universal basic income with about 4,000 participants this summer, making it the first North American government in decades to test out the policy, The Guardian reports.

Participants in the three-year, C$150m pilot program will be drawn from the cities of Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay. A randomly selected mail-out will invite applications in the coming months, with participants screened to ensure they are between the ages of 18 and 64 years and living on a low income.

The pilot will include a mix of those who are working in low-paying or precarious jobs and those on social assistance, with participants able to opt out at any point during the three years.

Unconditional monthly payments will begin to flow this summer; single people will receive up to C$16,989 ($12,570) while couples will receive C$24,027. All participants will continue to receive child or disability benefits, if applicable, the papers says.


Ontario plans to launch universal basic income trial run this summer (The Guardian)


Canada is launching an experiment that will give 4,000 people free money until 2020 (The Independend)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Introducing UBI in the Australian context

It’s high time we take it seriously, argues Charlie Young at The New Daily.

"While the (Australian) Greens have been advocating UBI for years, earlier this month Luke Whitington, the deputy chair of NSW Labor’s Economic Policy Committee, proposed investigating a nationwide program," Young notes.

"A multitude of recent articles, research papers and government reports have started looking seriously into UBI’s feasibility in Australia. Some proposals suggest paying out between $10,000 and $30,000 per citizen per year, which is no small thing. And it doesn’t look like the idea’s on its way out.

"Left wing proponents say a UBI would reduce crime, reward hitherto unpaid labour in the home, and massively reduce gender and income inequality, while essentially eliminating poverty – as payments would likely be set above the poverty line," he argues.

One source of funding would involve "replacing elements of government welfare spending coupled with progressive taxation."

"There’s a lot of money to be saved via the elimination of the bureaucratic means-testing involved in programs like Newstart," he notes.

A UBI could help relieve in other areas, Young says "such as the manifold economic pressures of Australia’s ageing population and jobs at risk from the rise of automation."

However, he notes that UBI champions from the conservative end of the political spectrum have a different notion of it.

"Some Liberals believe UBI could replace the inefficient behemoth that is the Australian welfare system. Mikayla Novak, a senior researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia’s leading free-market think tank, argued that federal and state welfare spending could have been redistributed in 2013-14 to give 'each adult Australian resident … about $714 per month in a basic income'."

"Remember, that would mean scrapping everything, including Medicare and child support," Young warns.

Different possible funding options are available, he suggests, including former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis' suggestion of taxing automation, while academic Thomas Pogge says we should put a global levy on natural resource extraction.

Land value tax as a funding stream, financial transaction taxes and carbon taxes are other possibilities, Young argues.


It’s time to take ‘free money’ seriously (The New Daily)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A UBI "social account"

"Can UBI work?" asks Kemal Dervis at Social Europe

"Implementing a full-blown UBI would be difficult, not least because it would require answering a number of complex questions about goals and priorities," he says. "Perhaps the most obvious balancing act relates to how much money is actually delivered to each citizen (or legal resident)."

"In the United States and Europe, a UBI of, say, $2,000 per year would not do much, except perhaps alleviate the most extreme poverty, even if it was added to existing social-welfare programs. An UBI of $10,000 would make a real difference; but, depending on how many people qualify, that could cost as much as 10% or 15% of GDP – a huge fiscal outlay, particularly if it came on top of existing social programs."

However, a proposal from France "is a step in the right direction," Dervis argues.

"The idea is to endow each citizen with a personal social account containing partly redeemable 'points.' Such accounts would work something like a savings account, with their owners augmenting a substantial public contribution to them by working, studying, or performing certain types of national service.

"The accounts could be drawn upon in times of need, particularly for training and re-skilling, though the amount that could be withdrawn would be guided by predetermined 'prices' and limited to a certain amount in a given period of time.

"The approach seems like a good compromise between portability and personal choice, on the one hand, and sufficient social-policy guidance, on the other," Dervis adds.

"Only by striking the right balance between individual choice and social-policy guidance can modern economies build the social-safety programs they need," he concludes.


Getting Basic Income Right (Social Europe)