What is Universal Basic Income?

Universal Basic Income is an income that is distributed to all citizens regardless of their current income or employment status. It is either a fixed amount sent weekly or monthly or else it is a one off lump sum. But it is designed to ensure that it is enough for people to live off.

The argument for UBI is that it ensures everyone has the minimum cash they require in order to live. The argument against it is that it will make people lazy and they won’t work.

But UBI is very different to a benefit. A benefit was always supposed to be a short term fix for people who were injured, disabled or temporarily out of work. However due to the way the system was created, beneficiaries who earn money over and above the approved threshold will lose their benefit. This has created a dependancy on the system and a fear to try create a new income stream — if it doesn’t go well then they might have to apply for the benefit all over again — which given this is a government agency we are talking about, is full of hoops to jump through and it takes an annoyingly long time. Therefore there is no reason for beneficiaries to ever take the plunge. This creates what I call the ‘benefit mindset’.

On the other hand UBI is non judgemental, it will pay you out regardless of who you are and how much money you already make, or even what you spend it on. This then allows traditional beneficiaries to actually try their hand at starting a small business, or doing contract work without worrying about their safety net being removed if they have a bad week. In my opinion UBI only works if there is further education.

To understand why a UBI might be needed we need to understand the global changes afoot as we moved from Society 3.0, the industrial society to Society 4.0, the internet society and now we are moving very quickly towards society 5.0 — the dreamers society.

Society 5.0 is supposed to bring together all the new technologies in order to seamlessly help every single person in the world gain access to what ever they need and most of the jobs will be done by technology (AI, drones, robots etc)

Unfortunately many people are still operating under a Society 3.0 mindset of ‘get a job’ but getting a job doesn’t necessarily work in todays world. In fact as more and more things are becoming demonetised the reality is we need to start asking the question “Should people have to work to simply pay the bills at all?”

There have been a number of experiments all around the world, with Canada, Finland and Kenya probably being among the most well known. There is still a lot of ongoing debate and study into whether or not the pilots were a success, but it is interesting to note that many other cities are wanting to jump on the UBI pilot bandwagon, meaning there is a belief it will work. In fact in the UK, three major northern cities — Liverpool, Sheffield and Hull — have now asked to host pilots of this ‘radical new idea’, because the Westminster way of doing things has failed these communities for far too long.

My personal belief is that UBI would be a stepping stone to a life that is going to be demonetised anyway, in fact right now I am working on my first community that would live a demonetised life, where they pay little to buy into it and then once they are in their living costs are paid for which could be construed as a UBI.

So whether you love the idea or hate the idea, Universal Basic Income is one possible solution to help those who are getting caught in the cross hairs as we transition from Society 3.0 to 4.0 and onwards to Society 5.0 and eventually a world where the idea of having to work to make the money to live seems absolutely ludicrous.

A futurist and entrepreneur, Kyron helps social entrepreneurs, change makers and everyday heroes to create freedom so they can stop working to make a living.