Basic Necessities Free For All

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
An interesting article appearing in a couple of online sites this morning , this one taken from the Independent : ... 93476.html

Universal basic services could work better than basic income to combat 'rise of the robots', say experts.

The state should make shelter, food, travel and IT services available to all, free at the point of use, rather than focusing on redistributing money, a team at UCL says.

In essence , a variation on ideas kicked around by us on CarerWatch almost a decade ago.

The question we asked then was ..." How do you protect the most vunerable against the ravishes of the free market ? " ..... in particular , rising costs associated with the bare essentials ... food / housing / transport / utlities / health / support for both carers and our carees.

Our Social " Wage " idea can out of those discussions ... this artilcle offers an alternative from a different angle :

UK citizens should receive free housing, food, transport and internet access to counter a “rise of the robots” that threatens to eradicate millions of jobs, new research has suggested.

Experts working for University College London’s Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) say the universal ethos of the NHS should be expanded to cover other areas of life to mitigate the disruption caused by technological change.

The radical proposals include building 1.5 million new social homes to provide rent-free accommodation to those in most need and supplying one third of all meals for the estimated 2.2 million households who struggle to experience food insecurity each year.

The Freedom Pass, which allows disabled people and those aged over 60 to travel locally for free, would be expanded to everyone. Basic internet and telephone access would also be paid for by the state, allowing everyone, including those on low or no incomes, to access work opportunities, “as well as participate in our democracy as informed citizens”, the IGP said.

The Institute has put forward the set of ideas, which it calls ‘universal basic services”, as a more achievable and more desirable alternative to universal basic income (UBI).

The idea of UBI - paying everyone a guaranteed income regardless of whether they are in or out of work - has garnered lots of attention recently. But the IGP report’s authors argue that, while the aims of UBI may be laudable, the debate should move on to focus on more politically attainable goals.

Instead of attempting to alleviate poverty through redistributive payments and minimum wages, the state should instead provide everyone with the services they need to feel secure in society, the report’s authors argue.

They say UBI is expensive. Paying all UK citizens the current Jobseeker's Allowance amount of £73.10 per week would cost almost £250bn per year - 13 per cent of the UK’s entire GDP.

By contrast, widening the social safety net through more comprehensive services would cost around £42bn, which can be funded by lowering the personal income tax allowance from £11,800 to £4,300, according to the IGP’s analysis.

The experts say an expansion of basic services to everyone is highly progressive because those who rely on them will be disproportionately the least wealthy in society.

Almost half of the world's jobs, paying almost $16 trillion in wages, could be automated just by adapting existing technology in robotics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, a recent report by McKinsey estimated.

Professor Henrietta Moore, director of UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity, said: “Without radical new ideas that challenge the status quo, we face a future where the changing shape of our society and labour market leaves more and more people struggling simply to achieve the basics – let alone having the resources and mental energy to allow themselves and their families to flourish.”

She said that UBS was a logical extension of the widely accepted principle that health and education should be free at the point of use to everyone.

Commenting on the report, Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, said that rapid technological changes present a “profound challenge” for the economy and society.

“This report offers bold new thinking on how we can overcome those challenges and create an economy that is radically fairer and offers opportunities for all,” he said.

“It makes an important contribution to the debate around Universal Basic Income, and will help inform Labour’s thinking on how we can build an economy that truly works for the many not the few.”

Speaking at an event in London on Tuesday, the report’s authors, Professor Jonathan Portes, Howard Reed of Landman Economics and Andrew Percy from the IGP, said they intended their proposals to form a starting point for renewed debate on the issue.

At first reading , the concept may seem pie in the sky.

The Idea of an Universal Basic Income ( UBI ) / Citizens' Income ( Green Party ) has been around , in various forms , for years.

What is does bring home is the anticipated advance in technoligal changes which , in a classic Isaac Asimov way , will mean less employment for many more citizens .... off to work we go with a spanner and screwdriver to fix faulty workers , the robots.

If you prefer numbers :

Today ... 1 in 4 ( 13 million ) close to / at / below the Official Poverty Line ... just under 1 in 20 officially unemployed.

2027 ?

Assume the same 1 in 4 and 1 in 20 .... then add on 5 / 10 / 15 million more " Economically Inactive " or in part time work.

What's the solution , a humane one ... of course !

Our " Doctor Susan Calvin " may already been studying for her masters in robotics ?????

Perhaps someone ... like Bill Gates ... or a S. R. Hadden ( John Hurt's character in Contact ) ... is already taking an interest in her progress ???

Make of this what you will .... it is the future whether we like it or not.
They quote free travel as being available for 60 year olds. WRONG. In a lot of areas its linked to state retirement age which for many is now 67+
If their research is based on incorrect facts or assumptions, I can't really put much belief the rest of their findings either :(

P.S. I did misread the heading as bear necessities so at least it made me hum a happy tune :D
Freedom Pass ? In London , I am now eligible but not so locally .... a misnomer in said article ... most will be 66 in line with the official state pension drawdown datw.

Actually , the paradoy of the Bear Necessities tune isn't a bad reflection when trying to promote said idea to " Joe Public ".

A bear singing along without a care in the world has he has now as the Bare Necessities to enjoy life ?

Still , one more idea that , initially , would appear " Wacko " but , turn the clock back some 50 years ... college days and dicussing how to deal with an ageing population ... some of those wacko ideas are now fully mainstream.

The closest example of a similar type sheme from history .... USA in the Great Depression ( If one considers the numerous tent cities as housing ) , and to a very limited extend , Russia and the Ukraine in the few years after 1917 ( If one considers widescale theft and redistribution as a means to an end ).
A variation on the initial article which appears in today's Guardian : ... inequality
An NHS for housing and food? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

State-provided universal basic services could be the best and most moral response to rising inequality.
The writer Alan Bennett, discussing the political and social changes that began in the 1980s, noted: “One has only had to stand still to become a radical.” In the subsequent decades the supposed middle ground shifted so far rightwards that mainstream ideas – or, at least, considered within the bounds of conventional opinion – were to be dismissed as leftwing, pie-in-the-sky lunacy. A certain set of assumptions became dominant across all institutions of the British establishment. Policymakers became narrowly focused on a specific conception of “efficiency” – which led them to favour outsourcing, privatisation and means-testing. It was seen as desirable to shrink the welfare state as much as possible.

Effectively, neoliberal ideology became hegemonic. This was achieved so effectively that many adherents refuse to countenance the idea that their worldview constitutes an ideology at all. From their perspective, it’s just common sense. There are no other realistic options. Anything other than the status quo is either naive idealism or sinister radical dogma. Real politics is about accepting the rules of the game and doing the best you can under the circumstances.

Opinion polls have long suggested that on some economic measures the British public is rather to the left of the establishment-designated centre ground. Recently this disconnect has become more dramatic. Just yesterday, a call came from Richard Branson, a titan of capitalism, for a universal basic income that would counter the effects of artificial intelligence and the much-mooted rise of the robots. And a report from University College London’s Institute for Global Prosperity is advocating that UK citizens should receive free housing, food, transport and internet access to deal with that same daunting possibility. A significant majority of voters now favour taking trains, buses and utility companies back into state ownership. There’s also fairly widespread support for nationalising banks.

The horror of Grenfell Tower has also given impetus to those who wish to see a more communal politics. Though a public inquiry into the tragedy is in progress, leftwingers have long argued that programmes for poor people are poor programmes. That is to say, when fewer people are dependent on a service – and when they’re among the most marginalised, disempowered and ignored members of society – there’s a higher chance that standards will fall.

If a larger proportion of people lived in social housing, this sort of treatment would be impossible. Politicians can only neglect a certain percentage of the population without facing consequences: mess with too many of us, and we’ll vote you out. In essence, this is the basic argument for universality. It’s one that even many left-of-centre politicians seem to have forgotten in recent decades. The higher the number of people who have a stake, the better resourced, monitored and defended a public service will be.

How many people who criticised Labour’s plans for universal free school meals as “inefficient” realise that, since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they haven’t raised the (already desperately low) income threshold of £16,190? Factor in inflation, and that’s a cut. What’s more, because of the stigma associated with means testing, many families who are eligible don’t take advantage. Who can blame them when so many children report that receiving free meals often leads to bullying?

I’m sure that if the NHS were newly introduced in the UK today, some policy wonks would argue it should be means-tested – to ensure it’s as “redistributive” as possible and that affluent people don’t benefit from something they could afford to fund privately. A similar argument would probably also be made about schooling. But now we’ve actually experienced the benefits of universal provision, we tend to be fiercely defensive of those entitlements. We implicitly understand that “free at the point of access” doesn’t mean the rich are subsidised by the poor: a progressive tax system means everyone pays what they can afford.

As the neoliberal order of the past several decades enters its death throes, we should take the opportunity to reconsider our conception of universal rights. Healthcare and under-18 education we already agree on. In a changing economy with a growing need for highly skilled workers, why not university education as well? What about state-provided universal basic services, which is what leading economists and social scientists at UCL propose as a practical, affordable and morally justified response to growing poverty and inequality?

The left has spent years focusing primarily on opposition: resistance to spending cuts, punitive welfare changes and the erosion of employment rights. Now, with Labour tantalisingly close to power, we have, at last, a chance to imagine something better.

Let the academics of this world have their day.

Amongst some of their ideas will be a coherent plan ... of sorts ?

What to do with all those economically inactive .... short of a mass cull ???

Comments section at the bottom really buzzing ..... 650+ as I type !