Design your own Citizen’s Basic Income scheme


There are many different ways that a basic income could be implemented and funded. Some people suggest that we retain some means-tested benefits on top of a very low basic income (this is known as a partial basic income). There are also many different proposals for how we could fund a basic income scheme, such as through a Land Value Tax, a sovereign wealth fund, or a tax on automation.

With all that in mind, we have designed a simple calculator based upon Annie Miller’s calculations in her new book ‘A Basic Income Handbook’ which costs out a variety of basic income schemes for Scotland. This calculator imagines a basic income which is funded entirely from income tax. Instead of rich people paying a higher tax rate, we all pay the same rate of tax, and there is no tax-free allowance. Depending on the level of basic income you set, some people will have more money than they currently do, and some will have less, but we would all have the security, freedom, and peace of mind that a basic income would provide. The figures are mostly based on 2015 which is the last year for which comprehensive data is available, but there will not be enormous differences between 2015 and the situation today.

Because this scheme is a flat tax, if you choose a scheme where the tax rate is less than the current top rate of tax (45%) there will be two ‘break even points’. With the default values in the table if you earn less than £15,840 you are better off, and if you earn more than £67,500 you are also better off because you have more of your income which is not taxed at today’s higher rate. In this scenario those people in the middle are paying more taxes so that the higher earners can pay less. Experiment with finding a level of basic income which prevents the highest earners benefiting more than those on lower incomes. If you are currently paid a salary, experiment with finding a level of basic income where you break even.

There is much more to this calculator than meets the eye, and we have hidden a lot of it in order to keep it simple. This includes data such as GDP, the number of people living with disabilities, and the demographic make up of Scotland. You can have confidence in the answers it provides, and if you would like to know more we suggest grabbing a copy of Annie’s book.

We included a column to show you what the equivalent hours of minimum wage work would be for over 25s to receive the same money as a basic income. This is because it is helpful to contextualise the type of lifestyle a basic income would provide. Many people who object to the concept of a basic income do so because of a perception that it would enable a life of luxury. We hope that this data will help them understand the lifestyle that would come with their basic income scheme, especially for unemployed working age adults, who are often perceived as undeserving of a basic income. It is worth noting that if you leave the numbers as they are to begin with the cost is higher than the current spend because the calculator assumes the payments to Working Age and Young Adults are not means-tested, whereas very few people receive them currently. Similarly, the value for  children is the current combined Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for your first child, and currently decreases for additional children. A basic income for a child would not decrease with additional children.

Finally, at the bottom of the spreadsheet you can see what it would cost to run a basic income pilot scheme here in Scotland, based upon your choices. You can choose how big the sample would be, and how long it would run for. The cost is based upon you giving a basic income to a representative sample of people in Scotland, rather than focusing on a particular group such as the unemployed. Many pilot schemes will take an alternative approach for a variety of very good reasons.

Every cell in the spreadsheet below can be edited but we recommend you leave the greyed out cells alone otherwise the calculations won’t work.