Australians back the case for guaranteed basic income
9 August 2021 at 4:32 pm
“Income security is a basic human need, and basic income is a means to meet that need.”
As the global pandemic raged through Australia in 2020, it brought with it one unexpected positive — many Australians had a form of basic income for the first time.
The doubling of the Jobseeker payment and JobKeeper, which gave security to those Australians with insecure jobs, meant that, for a brief moment, many Australians were lifted above the poverty line.
It was at this point that Anglicare Australia started to ask why, when the benefits were so apparent, shouldn’t Australia strive for this outcome 100 per cent of the time?
The organisation commissioned social researchers Ipsos to survey 1,000 Australians with the aim to understand how a basic income would affect their work and impact their financial lives.
The result is Anglicare Australia’s Valuing Every Contribution report, which found that 77 per cent of Australians supported the creation of a permanent basic income.
Basic income is seen as a payment made to all adults, allowing them to meet their basic needs and is made unconditionally and regardless of how they choose to live.
Dr Troy Henderson, economist and expert on basic incomes from the University of Sydney explained in the report that basic income shouldn’t be seen as money for nothing, instead it’s “something for everyone”.
“Income security is a basic human need, and basic income is a means to meet that need. COVID-19 didn’t create the need for a basic income but it made that need more visible to millions of Australians,” Henderson said.
“The pandemic payments showed us what is possible in terms of temporary social protection. The real challenge is to make income security permanent.”
The report asked Australians how a basic income would affect their lives, how they would use their time, and how they would engage with the workforce.
It discovered that two in five Australians would use a basic income to secure their finances, one in four would spend more time volunteering or caring for loved ones, one in five would improve their skills and education and one in 10 would reduce their paid work hours, which could free up capacity for the 1.1 million Australians currently looking for more work.
Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said that last year demonstrated that every Australian could be guaranteed an income to lift them above the poverty line.
“Lives were transformed, and hundreds of thousands of people were lifted out of poverty. Our study shows that a permanent basic income would lock in these benefits and bring many more,” Chambers said.
“There are so many Australians who want to work more, but can’t get the hours they need. A basic income could create space for them by allowing others to work less. People on insecure incomes told us it would help them get a handle on their debt and save for the future. Others wanted to prepare for a changing workforce by investing in their skills and education.
“With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that so many people back a basic income. Australia has already made this happen once. Now it’s time to do it again – and lock it in for good.”
You can read the full report, here