14.5 million living in poverty
in the world’s fifth largest economy
until a global pandemic forced our chancellor
to spend £69 billion on a word
none of us had ever heard of.
Furlough showed universal basic income to be
a fundable possibility, at £67 billion net cost
paid for through reduced corporate tax breaks
and subsidies. Just 3.4 percent of GDP
to make absolute poverty extinct.
When the first unconditional money
hit mum’s bank account she cried
with eyes that could now see a future.
But trusting it took time. You’re not supposed to eat
normally just after a fast or you’ll be sick.
So we let relief drip into our days.
First in seconds, dancing round the kitchen
feeding shopping into starved cupboards
now bulging till their doors wouldn’t shut.
Then in minutes, a river that brought mum
home two full days a week. She began
helping me with my homework.
Grades went up. A well fed mind imagined
going to university, freed from the urgent need
to leave school early and start earning.
Knocks on the door brought not fear
but friends. Neighbours came to chat,
share ideas, our street hadn’t felt this alive
in years! Revitalised by breathing in
something other than stress and anxiety.
Minds to the right: tick
for smaller, simpler government; tick
for healthcare appointments reduced
8% by better physical and mental health; tick
for greater purchasing power from the ground up.
Minds to the left: tick
for greater community engagement; tick
for people secure enough to believe in a future; tick
for human ingenuity previously capped
by the poverty trap freed to help create
a society no longer chained to poor
wages for sourcing, making, selling poor
quality goods that return to poor
countries forced to burn, bury, breathe poor
quality air. Instead, the choice to say no
from a new sense of security, dignity, universality
we can do better.