Tuesday 8 October 2019

Wales of the Future - how do you feel about Universal Citizen's Income?

Wales is not a poor country, but we do have an "official" deficit which is always quoted as reason for Wales not be independent. A more prosperous Wales is probably nearer the truth. Creative accountancy by the UK does help the "deficit" - did you know that we are being charged for London's multi billion Cross Rail project, per head, on the grounds that some of us may use it in the future? We will also be billed for HS2, if it goes ahead, on the same reasoning. All western countries are in some debt  but it is how we share our wealth that is important.


It is chilling to see that many communities in Wales with high incidences of child poverty, including some here in Llanelli where I live. These recent figures are based on household income. Other indicators such as free school meal uptake also indicate many local families struggling to support their offspring. Many people on low incomes struggle not only with poverty but with debt as well. This not fair. We need a system where all citizens have a permanent source of income to cover basis needs.

My own political party, Gwlad Gwlad has a radical policy to reduce poverty across Wales. Poverty in Children is a sign of families having inadequate income. Many people are trapped in welfare dependency, as they are often financially “punished” by taking on a low wage job , which may actually cause them to lose so much in benefits that they are worse off. Poverty has many consequences including constant stress trying to make ends meet , substandard housing, poor diet and children brought up in a struggling household who often cannot avoid sharing the despair and insecurity of their adult carers.


As the Senedd increases its powers, including tax powers, we can have real power to address poverty in Wales for the first time. Here is one idea which could work.

Our flagship social policy is to introduce a modest Universal Citizens’ Income for all adults over 18, This would be irrespective of whether they work or not and paid for by general taxation. It would replace most benefits including unemployment benefits and basic state pension. It would mean that no one needs to be destitute. Neither would any adult have to wait for their benefits after losing a job. it would be there already.We would retain a form of child benefit and special benefits for cases of major disability., etc.

No-one would need to fear sanctions or have their benefits reduced on getting a job. Everyone would be assured a basic income for life .Parents would have more choice on whether to stay home with young children or spend their Citizen’s Income on childcare and go back to work. Stress levels would reduce and all our children would grow up with a degree of financial security.

Working taxpayers would also receive Citizen’s income, but this would be balanced by removing personal tax allowances and adjusting tax rates to make the combination broadly tax neutral. Naturally, a welsh citizen would have to qualify by birth, or long term residence etc or we would have a huge influx of people claiming to be Welsh just to get our benefits! 


We also plan to eliminate tax loop holes in high income workers and expect from that to increase net tax collection, i.e stop the tax evasion at the richer end of the scale.

The citizen’s income for tax payers could be regarded in practice as a tax refund. All adults, rich or poor, would get the benefit.

Our children all need a good standard of living, a good education and a future as useful citizens.


Our children all need a good standard of living, a good education and a future as useful citizens. Pride and confidence in your nation and your national identity are positive features found in every successful country. Wales needs to teach pride in our nation, not that we are some lesser people deserving second class treatment.

Part of our education policy is to overhaul our National Curriculum to prioritise learning of our history, traditions and culture and encourage confidence and pride in our children.

We value all of the employment spectrum and will give technical and vocational qualifications equal status to University based education. We totally reject any distinction in status between the two. We need people with practical hands on skills as much and sometimes more than those with academic qualifications. At the moment youngsters, many from poorer backgrounds, are often made to feel second rate and less useful to society and often paid minimum wage. Even a degree is no guarantee of career success, but a family who can support you today financially, means you are more likely to graduate. and with less debt and more opportunity. For the poorest, a degree may mean huge debts and personal sacrifices. A universal Citizen's income means no need for loans to cover subsistence and rent, everyone over 18 will get the same financial boost.

Graduation Day at  university.  

All of our children are important. We need everyone to contribute, in reality, all are vital to our productive economy. not just those with academic career paths.Many graduates end up in the pubic sector.in wales These jobs are very necessary for quality of life in society. but a country’s income is from making, growing and selling things. Wales needs to produce goods of all sorts and we should not waste the massive talent of our people. 


Children in poverty is an emergency. We are wasting future human resources by not supporting young families in need. Partial temporary interventions, such as Sure Start programmes to give extra support to the poorest children and teach parenting skills to their mothers, often help greatly when they are very young , but they may well need educational support  given throughout school, to maintain this benefit. Few providers can afford this and not all children in severe poverty access the programme .

Data published does show that there may be health benefit in the UK of these programmes, which usually include providing food and a warm, dry classroom area. There may be less child hospital admissions in these communities. Poorer children tend to have more serious illness requiring hospital care, especially pre-school children, where serious chest and urine infections predominate. This is all largely preventable.
Other reports show benefits to parenting and , and better family relationships as well as health. However , where families have already become dysfunctional, especially those with severe poverty and poor and insecure accommodation, improvement is less. Many local Authorities have cut down on Sure Start programmes purely for cost reasons. Surely we should aim to prevent the problem occurring by supporting poorer families financially in a way where they are not singled out and stigmatised?

Giving all families enough money to support themselves will make a big difference. Not only taking the stress off individual adults but improving family life and removing the current stigma and uncertainties of benefits.

Rather than just treat the symptoms of child poverty, we plan to address the major cause, the POVERTY itself,, and give all Welsh families financial security and economic choices through a BASIC WELSH CITIZENS INCOME.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or have you a better one? Please comment.  

 Siân Caiach 

For more information on Gwlad Gwlad, the political wing of the Ein Gwlad movement, see https://eingwlad.wales