Could a new ‘basic income’ protect Australia’s most vulnerable? The Conversation

Extract from an article by Ben Spies-Butcher

Australia’s welfare system does a lot with a little. But the plight of growing numbers of precarious workers has led to calls for a new basic income.

The cost of such a scheme seems prohibitively expensive. So, might the lessons of Australia’s super-efficient welfare system offer a potential way forward?

Why do we need it?

British social scientist Guy Standing has argued that the new social divide of the 21st century is between those with secure employment and the “precariat” – a class of precariously employed workers. He argues that a basic income – a universal, low but adequate payment – is therefore needed.

The basic income proposal directly addresses the problem of people falling through the cracks of a complex welfare system. And it would dramatically reduce the cost of administering welfare – costs that have grown as welfare has become more conditional.

While the conditions attached to social payments are justified as providing incentives to work, or challenging a culture of poverty, the evidence is often lacking.

Research suggests work for the dole actually reduces the chances that recipients will find work. There is little evidence that quarantining payments helps either. But both measures dramatically increase administrative costs…(continues)

SOURCE: Ben Spies-Butcher, “Could a new ‘basic income’ protect Australia’s most vulnerable?”,  The Conversation, 27 Oct 2015

Link to full article

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