Very interesting. Facebook today, has as usual, got me thinking and given me somethig to write about.
The little gem I have just been reading a fascinating article on ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’ (MIG). A scheme that is going to be trialled in Utrecht in the Netherlands, in Finland as a whole and is now being proposed for Switzerland too. It’s something I first heard about a couple of years ago and, having read up on the subject and talked about it with people with a lot more understanding of the issue than me and given it a fair bit of consideration, I think we should have a proper discussions about trying it in the UK as well.
So, if we’re going to do that, what is MIG anyway?
Well, I am no politician or Economics guru but I think I understand the principles at any rate. As far as I can make out, with MIG all the adults in the country would receive a minimum income that is JUST enough to live on and all children would receive a smaller amount until they reach maturity. But, and here’s the important bit, there would be no other Welfare Benefits at all, just MIG. People who were able to and wanted to would be welcome to get a job to ‘top up’ their income but, whatever they earned would be taxed, from £1 upwards, and taxed at a higher rate than at present. I think that’s it.
No way, I hear you say, that sounds expensive and there are no incentives there to encourage anyone to go out and get a job at all. People would be able to just sit on their idle backsides all day and do nothing. What about that?
Well. Costs first. I don’t know if I’ve got this completely right but, as far as I can make out, if there are no other benefits available that’s a whole load of money saved straight away. The money that is used for the admin and implementation of the multitudinous number of benefits we currently have in this country would all be available for MIG instead. If everyone got it, without any form of means testing, the cost would be negligible. The State would, of course, need to do something to ensure that older and disabled people would be able to access the support and equipment they may need at no additional cost but how that would function is something that would need to be investigated and worked out before any form of MIG could be implemented.
And how about the terminally lazy? People could, of course, sit on their sofas all day if that was what they wanted to do but they may not be able to afford their super special satellite TVs, their xboxes in games consoles. No more annual holidays to the Spanish costas, just the sofa. They wouldn’t be able to apply for extra money from anywhere else to supplement their income, they would have MIG and that’s all. Same goes for the people who want to spend their money on tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs. It’s their choice. If that’s what they want to do then that’s their choice out they would have nothing else. That would be it. If people wanted anything else they would need to work to get that income top-up they need for all those little luxuries. The one thing that would be certain though, is that there should be more need for food banks and no more children going without. Everyone should have enough for the basics even if they had nothing else.
All in all I believe that MIG for the UK is something that should be seriously considered. I really am of the opinion it could work. Let’s give it some serious thought, if nothing else. Sure, there would be some hiccups, we couldn’t expect perfection right from day one, but I reckon, MIG could work in this country. I will be watching all the experimental schemes with interest and, if they work out the way I hope they will, I will be lobbying for a referendum for the same thing for the UK too.