Jane Dodds and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Picture credit to: The Week
The intention to run these basic income pilots, which would be implemented by removing conditionality rules from the standard element of the main Universal Credit benefit system, is already an official part of the party platform, voted for by Lib Dem members this autumn as part of the party’s ‘A Fairer Share For All’ package of anti-poverty proposals. With social security issues low on the agenda in the election overall, however, a number of the party’s candidates signed a separate declaration to bring attention to the policy.
The Liberal Democrats have a comparatively long history with minimum income as an idea, with citizens’ income proposals forming part of the party’s platform in its 1992 manifesto, and in recent years their proposals to abolish the sanctions system for social security, which they adopted in 2016, have seen them move back towards unconditional income policies. This comes alongside the Lib Dems’ wider pledges to spend more money on social security, abolish benefit sanctions, and end many of the other restrictions and claim delays that have caused problems with the Universal Credit system since its introduction. Lib Dems have been recognized by the Resolution Foundation to have progressive policies on welfare issues.
The backers of the minimum income statement, which was organized by a group of party activists, come from across Britain, covering all nations and regions and both urban and rural areas. Notable signatories include Andrew George, James Cox, Jasmine Sakura-Rose and Jane Dodds (Welsh Liberal Democrat), who has publicly spoken out in favor of the idea.
Quotes from signatories:
“I support a minimum income because it gives people the power to say no to exploitative jobs and a base from which to work to better themselves. Only with a minimum income or UBI in place can we begin to support real freedom for all.” – Oliver Craven, candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham
“We can’t carry on with a system that doesn’t ensure that people have a stable, reliable minimum level of income. The instability people face under the current social security system badly impacts on their health and wellbeing, and we have to find a way out of that.” – Josie Ratcliffe, candidate for South West Norfolk
“As a Lib Dem I believe in empowering people, and one of the most important parts of that is ensuring they can care for themselves and their communities and pursue their own paths and goals without the constantly looming threat of income insecurity that so many people currently face.” – Charley Hasted, candidate for Eltham
More information at:
Jane Dodds, “Why the Welsh Liberal Democrats want to trial Universal Basic Income in Wales”, Nation Cymru, March 2nd 2019
This article was written by James Baillie. Edited and reviewed by André Coelho.