This article was published in The Eclipse tabloid newspaper, October 2017
Would you rather be paid a lot of money to do a job that you hate or earn a lot less for doing something that you love?
For a growing number of people working 40 hours a week in return for a secure lifestyle is not a reality. Many don’t have enough work to pay the bills and others have so much work to do that they do not have any free time to spend with their family or friends.
The impact of this on society is being felt by all of us as mental health problems increase, in-work poverty is raising and household debt is higher than in 2007 when the banking crisis happened.
Some believe that a way to relieve these pressures and help us to develop a more equal society would be to give everyone a ‘Universal Basic Income’. This would be a non-means-tested payment from the government, which would be enough money to cover our basic living costs and keep everyone out of poverty.
An important feature of Universal Basic Income is that we would all receive it whether we have a job or not. A full-time Fire Fighter, a part-time teacher or a stay at home parent would all get the same payment each month.
Instead of dividing us into those who are employed and unemployed, Universal Basic Income would be a way to invest in our society and reward us for all of the unpaid work that is done in order for it to function. For example: raising children, caring for the elderly, volunteering and other activities we enjoy which also benefit our communities, like gardening, playing sport and socialising.
The common argument against Universal Basic Income is that it would reduce the incentive to work and make everyone lazy. But what if we thought of it like the state pension that you would receive for your whole life. How many lazy pensioners do you know? Because the high cost of childcare, many families have to rely on retired parents to look after their children so they can afford to go to work.
Universal Basic Income may sound idealistic but it would allow us to earn a living by doing things that we care about instead of being forced into work that we hate just to keep a roof above our heads. It will not solve all our problems but it could be the first step to help reform many of the systems that are currently in place and enable us to build a fairer society.