Low expectations

by / Filed under Politics

Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults, in a further sign of growing public activism over pay inequality since the financial crisis. A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs (2,800 USD) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population. Reuters via Basic Income UK

As you’re no doubt very bored of hearing, I’m interested in the idea of a Basic Citizen Income: a non–withdrawable, non–means tested income for every UK citizen, regardless of employment status, age and marital status.

I blogged a couple of examples of how it might work in the UK, using figures published by Dr Malcolm Torry. Unfortunately, it’ll never happen, due to our punitive attitude to poor people.

What’s interesting about the Swiss proposal is the amount they’ll be voting on. In the UK 2800 USD amounts to about £1750, i.e. the average full–time worker’s net pay.

In my examples, anyone over the age of 24 would receive £308 a month, around £1400 less than in Switzerland. And yet it still seems a million miles away. (Note: Dr Torry’s figures assume housing and council tax benefits remain the same. They substantially increase UK state derived income.)

What does this say about UK expectations of pay and quality of life?