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1. If a universal income is meant to be universal, why is there so much targeting?

1. If a universal income is meant to be universal, why is there so much targeting?


We are moving to an Unconditional Basic Income not a Universal Basic Income.  There is a labyrinth of targeted social benefits that has to be unwound in the process and our focus is in removing the most dehumanizing and patronizing of these first. We start from the position that just because a person is in need doesn’t mean they are in any way “badly behaved” – that being a totally different issue. Such an ethical stance is very different to the accusative and arrogant underbelly of tightly-targeted social benefits. 

The fiscal constraints make it most unlikely that a UBI anywhere near a ‘living wage’ would be acceptable to society. It’s better to think of it as a part time paid work equivalent, meant to provide us all with some means to finance periods of no income – such as for re-training, dealing with family problems, or temporary unemployment. It is also a long-overdue modest recognition of the contribution to society from the 1 million people who work but are not paid.

NZ Superannuation is a universal benefit for elders. However it is set at such a high level it would be impossible fiscally to extend that across the whole population. Meanwhile the evidence suggests the most stressed families are those with very young children. So our first step to an Unconditional Basic Income for all, is to reduce NZ Superannuation and lift (from zero) the basic income of families with very young children. It is an iterative path – there will be more steps as integrity is restored to the taxation system from TOP’s flagship policy #1. So targeting will reduce over time.