Calls to oppose basic income policy

The country’s largest public sector union is being asked to oppose moves towards a basic income policy to replace various social welfare supports.

In a motion before the 800-delegate Fórsa conference in Killarney, the Employment and Social Protection Executive Grades branch called on the incoming executive to oppose the introduction of a basic income policy or any version of it.

There are rumblings about Ireland being the first country to introduce a basic income payment, or universal payment on a State-wide basis, the conference was told yesterday.

“But this regressive measure would dismantle all social welfare payments leaving people with nothing,” Francis McHugh, of the Sligo Social Welfare branch said.

Proposing the motion, he said: “The basic income payment paves the way for the means testing of all social welfare pensions and payments that potentially includes the State pension contributor that people have worked diligently all their lives to pay into and pay for.

“Now, they will receive a much lower payment than they would otherwise be entitled to.

“Put simply, people will receive less money at all stages of their lives,” Mr McHugh claimed.

The single basic income for all would not just affect workers, it would also affect small enterprises, the conference heard.

The Family Income Supplement, FIS or working family payment that many families and industries on tight margins depended on, would be the first to go, Mr McHugh warned.

“Before the current social insurance and social welfare framework was established 100 or more years ago, the violent poverty riots became so deadly, Queen Victoria had to be evacuated to the Isle of Wight,” he reminded delegates.

Citing the experience of other countries, Mr Mc Hugh said in Oldham, in England, where it was introduced in some regions, the basic income payment had resulted in people’s income dropping severely.

He said a BBC investigation found people, families affected by the scheme, were left starving, without money and dependent on charity shops.

Mr McHugh said that the documentary also showed people “who were dying were being declared fit for work”.

Basic income policy, he added, would force down all payments.

The motion, meanwhile, was remitted to committee staged to formulate union policy on basic income.

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