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Basic Income in a disabling world - August 2018

Citizen Network, in partnership with UBI Lab Sheffield and the Centre for Welfare Reform is taking part in a seminar on basic income and disability at the BIEN International Congress in Tampere 2018.

BIEN means Basic Income Earth Network and it is the international community for advocates of basic income and academics and researchers exploring how to make basic income real. There is growing interest in the idea of basic income for reducing poverty and increasing economic security. Some disability groups are positive about the possibility that basic income will reduce the stigma of welfare payments – others are concerned that basic income will not help and may make things worse.

Social security systems often provide income for people with disabilities, but by using distinct systems, based on an assumption that disabled people cannot work. At the same time discussions about basic income often assume that people with a disabilities are a ‘special case’ whose extra needs cannot fit into any basic income system. For these reasons people with disabilities are not seen as likely beneficiaries of a basic income system.

The panel will question these assumptions and will consider whether:

  • basic income could bring benefits for people with disabilities compared to existing systems
  • basic income schemes could replace any existing schemes targeted toward disabled people, and in what way
  • people with disabilities could be an ideal group to lead piloting of new systems
  • there are risks with replacing parts of current social insurance systems, e.g. privatization of income insurance, or that overall standards for income security and public services will be eroded which could lead to increasing inequality

Most importantly we will begin the process of including people with disabilities into these discussion – for it is their perspective that must be central to any international developments.

Citizen Network has launched an international enquiry to explore how people with disabilities might benefit from basic income and what threats or confusions need to be overcome. Citizen Network has published a discussion paper authored by Dr Jim Elder-Woodward (a leader in the independent living movement in Scotland) and Dr Simon Duffy (Secretary of Citizen Network and Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform).

You can read the paper and get in touch with the authors here.

As part of the BIEN Congress a roundtable will meet to discuss these questions and listen to ideas and challenges from the wider audience.

The Panel will be made up of:

  • Dr Christian Ståhl, Associate professor at Linköping University
  • Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform
  • Sam Helle of Me Itse ry and a leading self-advocate in Finland
  • Markus Vähälä, Coordinator of Kukunori ry and of Citizen Network Finland
  • Coryn Barclay of Fife Council in Scotland (to be confirmed)

The seminar will be a roundtable discussion and an opportunity for a lively debate. If you can come along please do.

Details for attending and registering for the conference are available at: https://events.uta.fi/bien2018/