Our current welfare system is confusing. So we aren’t surprised that people are confused about what would change under a Youth UBI. The good news is that things will get a lot simpler, and nobody will be worse off. Let’s look at the impacts on students, the unemployed, solo parents and disabled.
At the moment Student Allowances for those under 24 are a maximum of $177 per week. This would disappear and be replaced with the $200 per week, no questions asked. No eligibility criteria, and more money. Think of it as a Universal Student Allowance.
Accommodation Supplement and eligibility for student loans for fees and living costs will not change. So they could receive the UBI and draw down the student loan living allowance, which should be more than enough cover their living costs. Or they could work part time, and their UBI would be unaffected. It’s up to them – that is called freedom.
The maximum Jobseeker Allowance for people under 24 is also $177 per week. This would disappear and be replaced by the Youth UBI of $200 per week. Again, there is no eligibility criteria, and more money, so nobody is worse off. Again, Accommodation Supplement will not change.
The most important thing here is that they won’t lose the UBI if they work, so there is no downside from taking on short term or seasonal work. There is no stand down period before they get their benefit again either. Or they might want to volunteer or do an internship to pick up work experience. Think of it as a Universal Apprenticeship Scheme.
Most importantly as we noted yesterday there are 22,000 young people not in employment, education or training who are not currently getting a benefit. They are currently falling through the cracks and would benefit from a UBI.
Parents with kids under 3 have already benefited from our Thriving Families Package which gave them $200 per week, free full time high quality early childhood education, and then $72 extra through Working for Families.
If young parents have kids outside this age group they would simply receive their youth UBI. Along with any other benefits they are entitled to.
The Supported Living Payment can be more than the Youth UBI, so the total amount received wouldn’t change. But many people on Supported Living Payments do work part time, and as with the other beneficiary groups they wouldn’t lose the UBI if they did so.
This really reinforces what a tangled mess our benefit system is. We wouldn’t get rid of benefits altogether, but things would be a lot simpler for most people, most would be better off, and nobody would be worse off.