“BINZ is disappointed that in the 2020 Budget there were no obvious moves towards the introducing a Basic Income for all New Zealanders” says Iain Middleton, spokesperson for BINZ. “Although there are signs of wellbeing initiatives to come with funds for the needs of the disabled.”
Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, recalled Peter Fraser, who, along with Michael Savage, was involved in the passing of the 1938 Social Security Act. One of the most important features of this Act was the introduction of Universal Superannuation, a world first. The superannuation scheme introduced in 1938 endures to this day as New Zealand Superannuation and has largely eliminated poverty in this group. In the past, we led the world in 1877 when the Education Act made education free, compulsory, and secular, again in 1893 when we were the first to give women the vote, and again in 1898 when we introduced a pension for those over 65. Introducing a Basic Income for all citizens in 2020, would make us a world leader again.
A Basic Income, which gives everyone a small regular unconditional monetary payment, gives people basic security. Our welfare system, with stand down periods, punitive abatement rates, relationship intrusion, excessive monitoring, and sanctions, is no longer fit for purpose. The system is punitive, attempting to force people into employment that may not exist. It is inefficient and costly to administer. When there is insecurity and uncertainty, evidence indicates that thinking shuts down, emotional harm occurs, and wellbeing suffers. Basic Income trials have demonstrated that the security of a Basic Income promotes security and a creative, ‘outside-the-square’ approach to the future.
A Basic Income trial in Finland during 2017 and 2018 compared long term unemployed people receiving a no questions asked Basic Income with others who remained on an unemployment benefit with punitive sanctions intended to force them into full time employment. Recently released results show that the Basic Income promoted good mental health and wellbeing and that those who received the Basic Income were more likely to find employment than those on the traditional unemployment benefit.
Those receiving a Basic Income have a basic level of security which frees them to think innovatively. In our post Covid-19 New Zealand, we will need innovative solutions to generate new opportunities for employment.
During the Press Briefings of the Covid-19 Lockdown we were encourage to see ourselves as a team of five million. The news media reported on innovative approaches and developments that arose out of the Lockdown. With a Basic Income, who knows what new initiatives will come from our team of five million.
Introducing a Basic Income now will promote recovery. A Basic Income, which can be targeted to those most in need with an appropriate tax regime, will ensure that those most in need have money to spend. When those on low incomes have money, they will spend it on necessities. Spending the money will promote small business, promote regional development, promote employment, innovative solutions, and increase the speed of recovery from the lockdown.