Call for research evidence: would UBI mitigate the social & economic disadvantages experienced by disabled people?

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Jane Mathieson is conducting research for her dissertation, which aims at reflecting on current experiences of those of us with invisible disabilities claiming disability benefits. She is exploring how Universal Basic Income (UBI) may improve our quality of life, potentially addressing social and political prejudice, removing barriers from disabled peoples’ socioeconomic inclusion and participation. 

Universal Basic Income is a regular payment made to every individual, which is not means tested, non-withdrawable and is paid without work conditions.

It would:

  • Guarantee everyone a secure base  
  • Replace the draconian, complex benefits system with a scheme fit for the 21st century 
  • Provide us all, including people who need extra income related to illness, disability and housing, with the freedom to develop our potential, to be included in society, to contribute our talents and to have the dignity we all deserve.

UBI would greatly reduce the ghastly punitive bureaucracy of the welfare system and give people more choice about which kind of work they take. It would also promote the idea of universality more generally, since it is an unconditional form of income. In non-universal welfare states, the state is primarily concerned with directing resources to “the people most in need”.

This requires a tight bureaucratic control in order to politically determine who is eligible for support and who is not. Furthermore, “those most in need” is a somewhat vague category of people, and as we have observed over the past decade, it comes with a bureaucracy that constantly re-defines ‘need’ and perpetually shifts the goal posts to suit the neoliberal austerity agenda.

People have been refused Employment and Support Allowance, on the grounds they are “fit for work”, for example, and therefore, not among those in the greatest need of support. However, many have died within weeks of being deemed fit for work by the state, indicating clearly they were not capable of working, and that they were in fact among those most in need of support. 

Beverage’s idea of the welfare state was universal and comprehensive one. He saw the role of the state as one of protection, which promotes the economic and social well-being of citizens, based upon the principles of  democracy, equal opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for citizens unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for an adequate standard of living. Social insurance is a system where people pay towards their own social security, should they need it. The vast majority of ill and disabled people have worked and therefore contributed to their own support. However, that support provision has become increasingly conditional and precarious.

I’m distributing this questionnaire to support Jane’s work.

It’s useful to explore in particular how UBI may work for those who need more support, such as those with caring responsibilities, as well as disabled people.

Here is an introduction to Jane’s research. You can click on the hyperlink highlighted in blue at the bottom of the page to participate in the survey: 

Taken for Granted: the implications of Universal Basic Income on those with Invisible Disability and a cost-benefit analysis for the State

You have been invited to be part of research to consider the experiences of those with invisible disabilities claiming benefits under the current system and how the implementation of Universal Basic Income may affect them. 

Please read this information sheet to find out more about the research and why I am doing it. 

My name is Jane Mathieson and I am currently in my final year of a BSc (Hons) Degree in Applied Social Science. One aspect of the course involves conducting academic research for which I have chosen to focus on Universal Basic Income and how its implementation may affect those with invisible disability in terms of well-being, social inclusion and work-related activities. 

The concept of true Universal Basic Income is that it is a benefit given to a large proportion of the population, regardless of household or family structure, age, employment status or disability. It is defined as a financial support which is sufficient enough to meet a family’s basic needs without earnings or additional sources of income. It would be seen to replace all income related benefits in their entirety, but not additional financial support such as Personal Independence Payment which is paid to compensate for the additional costs of being disabled. 

An online questionnaire will be distributed among members of Disability and Welfare Rights organisations through their online forums and social media. Hard copies will be made available on request. Participants may be invited to volunteer to take part in semi-structured interviews via Skype or another face-to-face communication platform. Please note there is an open comments box at the end of the questionnaire for you to share any additional comments or personal experiences. 

Confidentiality and anonymity: If you are happy to take part, please complete the consent form. I may write about what I find out in reports, conference papers, journals and books. I will also share any findings with other people who arrange similar activities, as well as other researchers.

It will not be possible to know who said what in anything made public. You can ask for feedback about our findings if you would like. If you choose to proceed, please complete the following questionnaire. On submission all data will be anonymised. All data collected will be stored on a password protected, private laptop, hard copies will be stored in a locked filing cabinet. 

Right to withdraw: You have the right to stop taking part in the research at any time during the questionnaire up to the point of submission when your details will be automatically be anonymised. Should there be a face-to-face interview, you also have a right not to answer specific questions or to ask for any audio and video ­recording to stop. 

Thank you in advance for your time and participation. Should you have any further questions regarding this research please contact me by email at jm158340@truro-penwith.ac.uk 

You can access the information sheet and questionnaire here.

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11 thoughts on “Call for research evidence: would UBI mitigate the social & economic disadvantages experienced by disabled people?

  1. From my own point of view as an unemployed JSA claimant (with transfer to UC looming at some eventual point in time) it would be a great improvement to my life, but I don’t know how it would work out or effect the sick & disabled, or how it would affect Housing Benefit. But if I were free from the oppressive and restrictive DWP rules and conditions it would be a huge relief, not having the Jobcentre constantly breathing down my neck, not having them send me on any more pointless courses and useless back-to-work schemes, not being forced to waste time every week doing pointless jobsearch for the sake of it and constantly worrying about the threat of Sanctions, and dreading the anxiety-ridden fortnightly showdown with the JCP Work Coach (i.e. Dole clerk). It would give me the flexibility I need to do temporary/part-time/casual work without the fear of it affecting my Benefits, and without the added pressure of Benefit conditionality. If UBI was more than current JSA level it would enable me to afford to eat better and pay the bills, perhaps even enable me to use public transport instead of having to walk everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t find a comment from you here, but it may have gone into the spam folder – that does occasionally happen and I can only apologise.

      I wrote a piece about the government considering plans to use blockchain a couple of years ago, for all benefits. So I agree under this government UBI would be used to entirely demolish the welfare state, and as you point out, for increasing conditionality and the stepping up the use of behaviourism and citizen surveillance. It would also restrict what people may and may not buy.

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      1. It’s not just what people will “buy,” it will use wearable tech data to turn the disabled into investable commodities. They will also likely layer in IoT monitored social prescribing, so the authorities can engineer the lives of people who receive benefits and digitally track if they complied or not. It is so deeply horrific and it seems only the Black Mirror folks are getting it. This was the link I thought I shared previously. https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/31/good-guy-in-davos-not-so-fast/

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