Do you have any ideas about how we can promote basic income in the UK?
So, we've most of us heard of 'Big Data,' a situation where things like your fridge will be able to provide useful and valuable data to producers and supermarkets. But Proxy living? Yes, Proxy Living is already spreading its electrical tentacles into our lives. Automation is already doing much for us, but it will soon impinge on our ordinary lives in a big way. Taking care of menial things will include the robots managing your diet, it might analyse your food purchases, plan meals and order food for you. It won't be too long before a robot cooks it for you. Automation has its benefits and some include taking the rubbish out of your life and having something else manage it. Automation is meaning that menial jobs are disappearing, to the degree that many of us will have no alternative than to rely on a basic income. But this is no bad thing. It will offer us opportunities. Perhaps for a time. With seasonal demands for deliveries, Amazon employs seasonal couriers, but automation is almost sidestepping this. Using driverless cars and drones, the capacity load is being filled by automation. Or it will be within 10 years. Automation may leave us with an opportunity to really get a lot from life without undue pressures. Not everyone will be jobless, but many will be free to work if they can find work or start businesses where opportunities present themselves. The question is where are humans ultimately going as a species? Perhaps becoming part biological /mechanical entities. We must not delay in bringing in Basic Income, time is running out and the robots are on the move. I am not against automation, we must however manage it and its integration, properly. To do nothing is not an option. The government cannot afford to sit on its hands and do nothing.
The DWP is seemingly oblivious to the fact that our benefits system is out of date and due for reform. The problem for them is that many of their offices are located in historically Labour voting heartlands and the fear of job losses will put many off from supporting the Basic Income cause. A mistake as it will benefit everyone. In my experience being jobless over the last year, is that DWP staff DO NOT WANT TO HEAR about Basic Income. They have no solutions to the problems or real answers to my questions from the real world and they often get heated when they try and snow me by saying the benefits they pay out is 'their money.' It is not, it comes from taxes we pay, it is our money we have paid in for years. Since 2009 and the big financial crash, I have been looking at the jobs market in depth and it is not a good place. Apart from the occasional upward blip in fortune, the market is not a good place. Automation is taking jobs silently, lean management is cutting back to the point there is no lean left, the DWP job coaches adopt a 'take any job' approach. This is not the answer. This is ridiculous, because this 'take any job' impacts on the people lower down the jobs food chain. The highly skilled are becoming under skilled and take jobs from the lower skilled. We are going backwards. The situation is coming to the point that for many people their backs are against the wall and there is no room for further retrenchment. The DWP must know its days are numbered as the dinosaur that it is trudges slowly to oblivion. The problem is it is trying to be an employment agency which it isn't. It tries to provide work placements which are in the main CV filler and of no real use to clients. They can't provide what we really need in this age: real work experience which might get us new jobs or the skills and training to do so. Some of us might want software and skills training that we cannot afford on our own, but companies have this capacity, yet because of Lean, we can't get access to this. I have contacted over 100 companies with my CV on speculative approaches. No one is interested. They are all cut back staff and work capacity-wise that they cannot afford to supervise people, so we have a classic catch 22 situation. Providing tick box job club type situations is no use to people like me with 20 plus years in business who have been there and done it. It is merely reinventing the wheel. Basic Income will address all these issues and help us boost the economy and cut carers costs, provide better health to the nation from less stressed individuals, produce a better, healthier, happier population that can start its own small business ventures with the safety net of the BI payment. We now have the Internet as a tool to empower our lives and create opportunities which we did not have about 30 years ago when the current DWP model was devised. It is being advised itself apparently by advisors who have not been in the real world of job seeking. We need to pay £15,000 tax free to everyone over 16 who is a British Citizen and has a social security number. We need to allow the first £10,000 of paid income for everyone tax free also. This will feed back into the economy from people spending or investing. This will help create jobs and wealth. The alternative is a nation of which half the workforce are impoverished and have to live on £317 a month. What a disaster this would be. It is time we hooked all the rank amateurs out of government and replaced them with professionals who know what the hell they are doing. Like or loathe Donald Trump, he understands how to run a company, create jobs and wealth. If he can apply business practices to running a country, it will be a start. When did Job Coaches last have to look for work or see that the job you are applying for has already had 97 applicants? The DWP is out of touch and not fit for purpose. It is past its sell by date. We must campaign the secretary of state and get Basic Income introduced as soon as possible.
20 years ago I was on a training course with the Benefits Agency which I worked for. Two questions came up, about where benefits money came from and the size of the budget. National Insurance is one small contributor to the fund. The money in their 'pot' actually comes from other taxes, vehicle excise duty, income tax, vat, company taxes. Not only that, but the 'official' budget level for the then BA was under reported by around 30%. As a job seeker, I get told by the DWP that the benefit paid to me is 'their' money. It is not. It is what I paid in, so to sanction someone is like you handing over your money and being told you can't have it back. Thankfully with BIG there is no need for sanctions.
We have recently seen 11,000 retail jobs lost on the High Street when BHS closed its doors. Although it is coming back albeit on-line, in an Amazon style model, it may only employ 100 staff to do so. Thus, at a stroke, over 10,000 mainly retail staff with impeccable skills will be dumped on a jobs market that is declining by the day. Many retail vacancies are now hours optimised, so that staff are not standing around, but on-site at key times of customer spend. This is an example of 'lean' management practice, other facets include employing the least cost option staff, staffing at barely proportionate levels and not filling jobs, merely lumping job responsibilities on existing staff. So how would BIG help the High Street? With 15 shops a day closing on the High Streets of Britain, BIG would mean that people would be able to go out into the High Street during the day, which might lead to more jobs created due to more sales. With more money about, this would filter into the economy helping national wealth. What is not to like? Is it not obvious that BIG is the way forward and may have the additional benefit of helping save a failing retail model? BHS will not be the last casualty. Mark Carney, Bank of England Chief predicts 15 million jobs may be lost to automation, finally someone in authority is waking up. Organisations like HMRC are ripe for mass automation, as is the old Dinosaur the DWP. We must start to implement this system without fail.
I have been out of work for all of 2016, I have 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience but I have a CV I can't get arrested with. I have offered free work placement to companies and no one is interested. I am being told to apply for jobs that are well below my skills and as such, no employer gives my CV a second look when they see my skills. The DWP is not recognising BIG, I speak to Job Coaches at the job centre and they are blinkered and do not want to address where the jobs are, they are vanishing from the workplace. Employment agencies I register with know the situation, they are actually touting for my CV, I have had 2 or 3 ring me and put me forward for jobs. They must be desperate? The UK government needs to wake up. I am researching for a book on humans and robots and BIG is obviously connected to this. Amazon has 6000 robots selecting in the UK in their warehouses, this will double and soon, the human element will be gone to, I guarantee that!
Is there a UK basic income raffle/lottery yet? One year of pay as the prize for a lottery. I know this is not the best group of people to tax for the result, but maybe people whom currently give money to the national lottery would switch over when they see the increase in chance of winning. £1000 per month or similar wage.
A quick easy, cheap way to raise awareness from your own home is to write in to newspapers or phone into radio discussion shows, not only when the topic is about basic income but anything else to do with income insecurity and the harmful effects of it. There are usually 3 or 4 stories per day that you could potentially put a basic income angle on.
Everyone loves a good personal story much more than stats and figures. We should film short interviews with people of all ages, ethnicities + backgrounds, talking about income in/security + what it really means for them.
Lots of peace activists and environmentalists want to see the end of industries like weapons manufacture. There are good links to be made around how a basic income would enable us to transition out of harmful industries without throwing people who depend on these industries for their livelihood into destitution.
Basic income would support people to have better health. This has been recognised by the Canadian Medical Association. We could seek the UK equivalent organisations such as the BMA, the RCN to take a similar stance. Conferences on health inequalities are good places to network and seek to build support from healthcare workers and professionals.
Basic income would support people to devote more time to sporting activities. I ran in the Birmingham half marathon + instead of asking people to donate money to charity, I asked them to sponsor me a conversation with somebody they know about basic income. This is a good way to raise awareness through word of mouth + anyone can take part without the requirement to spend any money. Studies have shown that the more people are aware of what basic income is, the more their support increases for the idea. You then also get to run the race/do the event in a basic income t-shirt. I had another idea about rowing the distance of the English Channel for the same purpose but haven't done that yet.
Basic income would support many more people into education, so it would be a good tactic to seek to build an alliance between educators and students (of all levels of education - school, further, higher) and their families in support of basic income.
Malcolm Torry has a new book coming out called Basic Income: A Christian social policy. In Birmingham we are planning to host a launch meeting for his book. We will invite all the Christians and other interested people of faith (or no faith) that we know. We will choose a prominent faith venue to hold it in. This will help to move the discussion into new circles who are already concerned about poverty but usually focus on charity as a solution. The same approach could be taken with other faiths, all of which could in theory claim an interest - eg. Buddhists for its compassionate reduction of suffering, Sikhs for the universality of the policy.
We have passed motions within UNISON West Midlands region to look into basic income, and there are supporters in other regions too. Unite and GMB have recently voted at their national conferences to campaign for basic income. If you are a union member and want a speaker about UBI to come and visit your branch, please contact Basic Income UK.
We have one big UBI sticker on the back of our van, but the campaign should get a load of small car window stickers made. Cheap, effective, free advertising that will be seen by frustrated workers sitting in traffic jams. A good time to stimulate thinking...
We are holding stalls at community events and asking people what they think of the idea of a liveable basic income. We are using Basic Income UK's statement. We get them to vote 'yes/no' if they agree with the idea in a ball poll which gives a nice visual. Then if they are up for it we get them to pose for a photo holding a sign saying what they would do if they had a basic income. Usually they leave us their contact info and we've now got a couple of hundred local people's details. We plan to hold get-togethers where there is a cluster and if there is an appetite we can approach the local MP for the area. We have had ideas about something more stunt-like for the city centre but haven't done it yet.