There are two inter-related aspects of UBS that are worth defining up front.
- “Universal” refers to universal availability rather than universally conforming service content. While the two existing universal services (health care & education) strive to deliver consistent content across geographies, some of the services we are proposing as part of UBS are necessarily geographically specific. (In no case is there any obligation to use, nor exclusive provision of, any basic service.)
- Consequently it is inherent to the practical implementation of UBS that there is responsive, effective and accountable local government, mapped to the same geographies as makes sense for service delivery. This will require a reformation of local government to enable the necessary local democracies to which budgets could be allocated for service design and delivery.
This requirement for dramatically enlivened and enhanced local democratic institutions represents a significant additional burden on the proposal for UBS, and one which is avoided by the idea of basic income. We do not consider the reformation of local democracy to be an impediment to UBS, but rather a positive externality that reinforces its integration with other devolution initiatives such as local generation, regional migration policies, waste management, and the pursuit of savings available through local design and delivery.