Research by The Equality Trust (1) shows that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, with homes in the south east possessing 83% more wealth than those in Scotland. They also identify key drivers (2) for increasing inequality in the UK including globalisation, which only serves to keep wages down for the most poorly paid by forcing them to compete with cheap labour abroad, and technology, which has reached the stage of eliminating work rather than enabling mass employment in new industries. Yet it is these people on low incomes who have borne the brunt of austerity measures justified as a reaction to the financial misadventures of the very rich.
There is no shortage of wealth in today’s society. A basic income would recognise the role that we all play in contributing to society and generating economic growth, which benefits comparatively few, and the pain inflicted by recession which affects the poorest most of all. Providing a way to meet the basic needs of every citizen will allow people to participate more fully in society, either through community groups, unpaid volunteer work, caring for children, disabled and older people, or simply through being able to socialise. A basic income will allow people to have more time to become engaged citizens in their communities, providing support to others and influencing improvements to services. The needs of our most vulnerable communities will be better served once they are able to help themselves.