For immediate release:

Press Release / Preasráiteas March 24 Márta 2020

Basic Income Ireland calls for a Universal Basic Income to promote inclusion, equality and solidarity in this time of emergency

Basic Income Ireland today called on the Government of Ireland to pay a Universal Basic Income (UBI) of at least €203 per week to all legal residents between 18 and state pension age, starting as quickly as possible.  

This payment will:

  • Provide an income floor for every legal resident
  • Ensure that nobody can slip through the safety net
  • Increase inclusion and social justice, since nobody will miss out on basic financial support.

This payment will replace the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, jobseeker’s benefits – currently €203 per week — and the UBI amount of other benefits.

Universal Basic Income will require no application process for those already registered for income tax or social welfare payments. It will be paid directly to bank or post office accounts. For those currently in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance or the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, Universal Basic Income will replace these. It will also replace the UBI amount of Illness Benefit and of other selected core benefits such as disability payments and Carer’s Allowance.

For employees, the payment will replace current income tax credits and allowances below the level of the UBI payment, as well as USC thresholds. New tax certificates issued to employers and individuals will ensure that people with good incomes continue to pay an appropriate amount of tax. Means-testing will move from the welfare office to the tax office, and nobody will miss out on basic financial support.  

For those currently in receipt of no payment from the State or from other sources, Universal Basic Income will provide essential, basic financial support. A registration procedure can be brought in for these recipients. People without bank or post-office accounts will need to open them.

Child Benefit and the State Pension will continue to be paid in the usual way. Universal Basic Income will be tax-free in every case, but all other income will be taxed.

Paying for Universal Basic Income

All over the world, governments are taking unprecedented steps to support their populations and their economies. The cost of a Universal Basic Income is well within the budget limits that other countries are setting for Covid-19 relief. Recent commitments from the European Central Bank mean that Eurozone governments can afford Universal Basic Income now.

Basic Income Ireland Joint Coordinator Bobby Lambert said: ‘Universal Basic Income is one essential part of the measures urgently needed to help our society and economy cope with the shocks triggered by the pandemic. Universal Basic Income is a well-established proposal long before the crisis. In this emergency, the case for it is stronger than ever. As well as promoting stability, it will be an investment in the future because it will also help everyone to think flexibly as they look ahead to a restructured economy and society.’

Basic Income Ireland Steering Group member Eileen Boyle said: ‘There are many gaps and unpredictable situations in current emergency provisions. Trying to fill these gaps on a case-by-case basis is not enough. Universal Basic Income reaches everybody in need immediately, without an application procedure or delays in payment. If it were already in place, some recent emergency measures would not have been necessary.’

Basic Income Ireland members believe that major changes of the kind the world is currently experiencing require bold, innovative thinking and a concern for inclusion, equality and solidarity. By introducing Universal Basic Income, the Irish government will show that they value all members of society as active participants in working through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.

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