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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

This Is My Blog: Mind the gap

This Is My Blog: Mind the gap

This is a post by batsgirl about the difficulties she encounters in dealing with the state around NI, incapacity and working.


  1. The main thing about a basic income is funding it.

    That's why I like Geonomics.

  2. Hi Mark. I had a look at the Basic Income stuff you pointed me to.

    Obviously I am neither qualified nor intelligent enough to be able to comment on the adminstration or funding of such a scheme in comparison to our current one.

    As an end-user though, it doesn't seem like a bad idea. In particular, it seems people like me whose only viable employment path is minimum-wage grunt work won't be faced with the conundrum of "so... no matter whether it's work or benefits, I'll be scraping by... but on the work option I'll be knackered all the time and have to entrust the upbringing of my kids to a stranger. Um."

    I do have to make three caveats though.

    Firstly, one size never fits all. The basic essential expenses of someone in an inner city estate, a leafy suburb, a semi-rural village, and a small town, are going to be very different.

    Secondly, there HAS to be additional help for disabled people because most disabled people have additional essential expenses. Some examples are obvious - for instance, people whose conditions preclude walking and driving need to be able to pay for things like supermarket delivery fees, Community Transport services, taxis, and so on. Some examples are less obvious. They include but are not limited to things like needing to use more water and electricity, or the extra cost of using ready-prepared foods.

    Thirdly, it would have to be per-person rather than per-household. Not having an independent income or the ability to earn an independent income is a major factor in a lot of abusive partnerships.

  3. Hi Mary,

    what I envisage is a standard payment per person for everyone, modified by age: 0-16, 16-18, 18-65, 65-death.

    If you have special needs then maybe some system of payments is needed, but I would hope to set the basic entitlement high enough that this is only necessary for the most badly effected.

    As for the cost of one location vs another, well I'm not too interested in that. Yes it does cost more to live in the country, but then its a nicer place to live; it should cost more. Why should I, living in a grotty suburb that is all I can afford, subsidise folks living in leafy idyll? You get your income and you decide how to spend it; if you can't afford to live where you'd like, tough - that is how it is for most of us. By subsidising the costs of those different places to live the differences in cost become enshrined and exaggerated; when some are not basic at all. The best example being the north-south divide, which has nothing to do with real costs, but imagined ones, which are re-inforced by the system of London weightings.

    If you want to live alone, live on that payment, if you can partner with someone and live more efficiently, go ahead - that has nothing to do with the state. In my view the state would have no interest in what private living arrangements people want to make. I find the idea of DSS peering into who lives with who to calculate benefits offensive, and as you say, it is the cause of many relationship problems.

    I think the basic income would be pretty high, it would roll up all of the benefits received today: job seekers, tax credits, state pension, child benefit, housing benefits, etc.. I would also stop the state from producing subsidised housing, council houses would be rented at market rate and tenants would pay the full cot out of their basic income. I'd also make everyone buy their education and health cover out of the basic income, so they can see how much it costs.

    The idea that goes along with this is a simple flat tax for all income, and some other taxes similar to now, but simplified as much as possible. Anti Citizen One advocates only having charges on property, but I think that is too big a change compared with the change from welfare state to basic incomes, though I am trying to find out more about the genomic theory and I may well come around to that point of view.

  4. The system of payments for additional needs wouldn't be half as necessary if councils were forced to provide decent social services. You wouldn't believe the number of things my friends and I pay through the nose for that most "normies" assume we get for free (mobility equipment, bath hoists, transport to medical appointments, laundry services dealing with incontinence issues, Meals on Wheels, wigs, bandages, you name it).

    One jokingly-suggested system from when I first got sick. Someone suggested that rather than claiming benefits via the complex system of forms and targets and so on, all the middlemen should be removed. I could just be introduced to a higher-rate taxpayer with whom I had no family or social connection. It would then be up to me to persuade that taxpayer that all or part of their tax-money should go straight to me as a Genuine Person In Need rather than to the central treasury. I quite liked that one.