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HiveMind Report – A Universal Basic Income for Aotearoa NZ

Image by: Sam Orchard #WE ARE BENEFICIARIES

UBI is a complicated issue. There were a wide range of opinions and views represented in this HiveMind discussion and it appears there is still uncertainty regarding certain aspects of UBI policy. However, it was encouraging that there were some clear points of consensus among the 232 participants in this exercise regardless of these differing views.

We discuss the results of this HiveMind survey below by focusing in particular on those statements that were agreed upon by over 60% of respondents.

We Need a Better Welfare System

Results from this HiveMind suggests that an overwhelming majority of Kiwis believe that due to changing circumstances and inefficiencies in the current system, we need a better system to take care of welfare of struggling members in our society.

- 94% of respondents agreed that due to changing economic conditions we need a new system that better guarantees the welfare of the least well off and those facing insecure work conditions.

- 90% of respondents believe that With unemployment projected to reach 40% in the next 10 - 20 years we need something in place ready for that to happen.

- 89% of respondents believe that we need to streamline the inefficiency and wasteful bureaucracy of our current tax and benefits systems.

- 89% also agreed that the Government must respect our ‘economic rights’ to have the means to access basic necessities set out in the UN declaration of Human Rights 1948.

- 88% agreed that We need to streamline the inefficiency and wasteful bureaucracy of our current tax and benefits systems.

A UBI could be part of that System

- 88% agreed that assuming the NZ economy produces enough to support all New Zealanders, a UBI seems the fairest way to provide that basic support

- 81% agreed that a Universal Basic Income will be necessary to protect millions of working people from the worst effects of insecure employment caused by new technology.

- 81% agreed that a Universal Basic Income will be necessary to protect millions of working people from the worst effects of insecure employment caused by new technology.

However, the respondents also agreed that UBI does not necessarily provide all the answers to our welfare problem according to respondents:

- 73% agreed that a UBI must not completely replace the current welfare system as there are still vulnerable people in need of additional support.

Kiwis want to contribute to society

Regardless of their views of UBI as a policy, a clear majority in this survey agreed that most Kiwis believe in the value of work and are not simply lazy.

- 92% agreed that the vast majority of Kiwis believe in the value of work and desire to be a valued, respected and contributing member of society in some way.

- 74% disagreed that some Kiwis are simply lazy so providing them with a foundational amount of money to cover basic needs like food, shelter, medical costs would mean they would just stop working or being productive altogether.

These results are highly encouraging and refreshing in the current climate of beneficiary bashing in the media and politics.

Benefits of UBI to New Zealand

There was pretty clear consensus among respondents on the ways in which a UBI could potentially be of benefit to New Zealand.

Most respondents clearly also agreed that there are other ways to contribute to society than simply by working in full-time paid employment:

- 94% of respondents agreed that a UBI would be of value to encourage and better recognise unpaid work that benefits society.

- 90% agreed that direct contributions to GDP through paid work are a poor measure of people’s overall value to our society and economy; and

Respondents agreed that UBI would be of direct benefit to the least well off members of society:

- 89% agreed that a UBI would prevent people falling through the cracks of the current system.

- 89% also agreed that a UBI could improve the bargaining positions of the most vulnerable workers by giving them more power to leave or negotiate.

- 87% agreed that the financial security of a UBI would give the least well off a better chance to climb the economic ladder.

- 86% agreed that with a UBI people would make more rational and sensible decisions because they would not live under the threat of absolute destitution.

- 74% agreed that UBI could advance public health as with more time, people will grow and prepare more nutritious food, will be less stressed and will be able to afford more health interventions.

Respondents agreed that a UBI could support a thriving democracy and more thriving local communities and economies:

- 86% of respondents also agreed that as it would give voters more time to focus on political involvement, UBI is important to a fully functioning democracy

- 71% agreed that UBI could contribute to the ‘degrowth’ agenda by promoting community development and more localised economies.

Maori and UBI:

- 62% of respondents agreed that a UBI would better fit within a Maori sense of collective social justice, and would assist the Crown to honour their commitments to Maori.

Finer details of UBI Policy

As to the finer points of a UBI policy, there were also some areas of clear agreement:

- 87% of respondents agreed that a UBI policy should include encouragement of reduced working hours and job sharing alongside UBI so that employment is more equitably spread and the UBI supplements wages.

- 79% would prefer to see a UBI policy in which people have more expendable income, as this would benefit the local economy and small businesses.

- 78% agreed that the increase of the basic income over time should be linked to economic and productivity gains on top of inflation indexation in order to more fairly share the wealth of the growing economy.

Funding UBI

There are many different options for funding a potential UBI system and the survey covered a few of these. What was clear was that a majority of respondents believed that UBI should not be funded by cuts to essential government services and supported more creative ways of financing such a policy.

- 86% of respondents agreed that elimination of the inefficiencies of the current benefit system would at least partially offset spending required for a UBI.

- 83% of respondents agreed that a UBI should not be funded by cuts to services such as healthcare, education, & childcare support.

- 65% agreed that a UBI could be done in a manner which does not increase overall government expenditure

- 61% of respondents agreed that a UBI should not be funded by higher personal income taxes but rather by targeting tax avoiders and extractive users of our shared common resources.

How to proceed with a UBI policy

Respondents clearly recognised the complexity of this issue and a majority believe that a risk aware approach is warranted:

- 83% of respondents agreed that UBI has clear benefits, but like most major policy decisions it also has risks. This does not mean we should not go ahead with it, but that we need to plan to manage any risks that arise.

Respondents agreed there is a real risk of UBI being used to advance an anti welfare state ideological agenda:

- 77% of respondents agreed that we must ensure the political and economic upheaval of a transition to a universal basic income is not used by interest groups and idealogues to further subvert the welfare state.

However it is promising that a majority of respondents to the question also agree with the following proposal for action set out by Basic Income New Zealand (BINZ) to progress a UBI policy in New Zealand.

75% agreed that:
“We should adopt these four steps recommended by BINZ to progress a UBI:
1. Replace the jobseekers benefit with an income neutral UBI;
2. index this UBI by inflation, growth, and increases in productivity;
3. introduce a kids' basic income;
4. expand on the Government's voluntary relocation scheme to make replacing the accommodation supplement more feasible in the future.”

More information on these suggestions is available in this opinion piece from BINZ.

More Discussion Needed

The main outtake from this is that more in depth public debate is needed on this issue to ensure any future policy meets the needs of all parties:

91% of respondents agreed that we need more public debate about the UBI including wider discussion of how we should gather and employ our nation’s financial resources

Open Data

Please feel free to download the full report from this HiveMind exploration. It is available here.

Please bear in mind that this is an AI produced summary of the data so HiveMind does not guarantee that the trends or groups selected by the algorithm are correct.

The raw data export of this conversation is also available here and we encourage the public to use this data for their own study, analysis, interpretation or visualisation. If you do make use of this data please acknowledge HiveMind and feel free to send it back to us for publication on Scoop.


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