A Basic Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship (Citizen’s Income Trust, 2017)

Key elements of a Basic Income are that it is:

  • Basic: A minimum payment, sufficient to meet basic needs
  • Universal: Paid to everyone, based on rights of residency
  • Unconditional: Without conditions, and non-withdrawable, irrespective of other sources of income
  • Individual: Assessed and paid individually (including to children) rather than by household

Proponents of the concept believe that it provides a basic platform on which people can build their lives – whether they want to earn, learn, care or set up a business (RSA, 2016).

A combination of factors has broadened its appeal in recent times: rising inequality, widespread economic insecurity, and the potential of labour-displacing technological change including automation and artificial intelligence.

There are many models. Differences include the amounts of the Basic Income, how payment levels are applied across different age groups, the source of funding, the nature and size of reductions in other transfers that accompany it (for example, changes to existing tax and National Insurance systems; which benefits are withdrawn).