Universal Basic Services (UBS) are a collection of 7 services that go as far as possible to enable citizens to live a basic life at the lowest monetary cost – ideally at no financial cost.
UBS are the sustainable future for what we typically call “welfare” today. As societies advance through industrial, technical and financial eras their needs evolve and they reach a destination where the only way to deliver the social safety necessary to maintain the cohesion of their society is to activate the innate human instinct for social effort.
Instead of seeing welfare as a means of distributing money, UBS envisages the same goal being achieved through the availability of universal services.
In the UBS proposal we build on the existing foundation of public services and extend the same principles of universal access, free at the point of need, which we already manifest in our health services, our public education, our democracy, and our legal services.
In seeking to determine a functional, successful, and sustainable position for our pendulum we are required to define what the ingredients are for social cohesion. While the idea of a universal basic income is abroad in the public debate, we believe that the “iron triangle” of social security (Controlling cost v Meeting need v Work incentives) must be addressed in any new proposal that seeks to replace, and improve on, our conditional benefits system. To that standard we add political feasibility and resilient social institutional buttressing as required features of any new sustainable proposal.
Universal Basic Services (UBS), delivers all of the benefits espoused for a basic income: independence, security, autonomy. But it addresses many of the real problems that a basic income raises: satisfying differentiated needs (e.g. disability and housing), general affordability, incremental implementation, political acceptability, and preserving the intrinsic value of monetary reward for contribution.
The overall objective of social inclusion, and thus cohesion, is to deliver a platform of services that enables every member of society to maintain their material safety, and creates the opportunity for personal effort to make their contribution to the rest of their society. To those objectives we add the vital component of participation, as necessary to the functioning of the democratic political system which forms the bedrock of our society.
Thus we arrive at a definition of UBS that includes 7 basic services:
- Sustenance (food)
- Health and social care
- Information access
- Legal and democracy