Citizen’s Income

Citizen’s Income
The Scottish Greens
August 2014


A Citizen’s Income is a new way of providing social security.  


A Citizen’s Income would sweep away almost all benefits and the state pension and replace them with a simple regular payment to everyone – children, adults and pensioners.


This income should be enough to meet the basic needs of everyone.


This unconditional payment to everyone would be cheaper to run and do away with the incredible complexity of the current system.


Because everyone receives the Citizen’s Income it removes the stigma of benefits and promotes solidarity between people. It would make that familiar soundbite “We’re all in it together” finally mean something.


A Citizen’s Income would give everyone the opportunity to change jobs, raise children, care for the elderly, pursue education, be creative or start a new business or project – without ending up on the breadline.


Women in particular would benefit from a Citizen’s Income. The late Scottish economist Professor Ailsa McKay made it clear that a Citizen’s Income recognises the “diverse roles of women as wives, mothers, carers and workers”.


The Scottish Government’s Expert Working Group on Welfare has recognised that a Citizen’s Income is one of the two main options for the future of welfare:


“In our discussions, two very different longterm visions were suggested. One would take a highly-individual approach to social security, tying benefits to personal contributions and savings. The idea of personal welfare accounts is an illustration of this approach. The second vision would take a universal approach and abandon meanstesting and complexity. The idea of a citizen’s Basic Income is an illustration of this approach.” 



A Citizen’s Income for Scotland


We have worked with the Citizen’s Income Trust and the University of Stirling to calculate the costs of an example Citizen’s Income scheme using a model based on data from the UK Department of Work and Pensions Family Resources Survey 2010/11.


The numerical analysis was conducted by Dr David Comerford, Research Fellow in Economics, University of Stirling. The Citizen’s Income described below is designed to be an affordable starting place, not a perfect solution. Other changes will be needed to the way the most vulnerable are supported but this example Citizen’s Income scheme is designed to be the foundation for a much fairer welfare system.


Some key benefits would stay: all disability benefits and carer’s allowance for those who need support, and housing benefit and council tax reduction for people who would otherwise be made homeless. 


The rest of the benefits system – such as tax credits, Jobseekers Allowance, tax free allowances, Child Benefit, Income Support, Pension Credit and the State Pension – would be replaced with the Citizen’s Income. 


The model was used to find out what happens to household incomes (in 2010/11) after we applied the set of Citizen’s Income rates and income tax regime below:


* £50 a week for children and young people under sixteen
* £100 a week for 16-18 year olds and working-age adults
* £150 a week for pensioners 


This equates to a tax-free Citizen’s Income of £5,200 a year for every working age-adult. A single parent household with two children would receive £10,400. A household of two pensioners would get £15,600 in support.


See full document here