Citizen's Income, also known as Basic Income; Universal Subsistence Income; Universal Benefit and similar, is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship.

CI is intended to overcome the failings of present welfare and social security arrangements operating in western democracies. It would be simple in application, increase economic efficiency, help prevent poverty, and unite our society.

There are four basic inefficiencies of current welfare provision:

  • It generates and maintains the poverty trap;
  • it encourages reluctant labour to clog up the labour market;
  • it insists on a tight connection between income and work;
  • it fosters bureaucratic encroachments on individual freedom.
CI addresses these because
  • it is not lost when recipients improve their financial status;
  • it allows people to pursue self-chosen, socially valuable activities which do not involve financial reward;
  • it recognises that most wealth is generated by inanimate science/technology-driven production processes that progressively displace the need for everyone to work;
  • it eliminates the need for "targeting the needy" and extracting shameful revelations of inadequacy as a precondition for receiving income support.

Various ways of financing this thoroughgoing method of tackling poverty have been discussed and analysed since the days of Thomas Paine (in Agrarian Justice) onwards.

Just two of the many gateways to proposals and debates are the Basic Income European Network (BIEN), and Citizen's Income Online

One of the many advocates of this social reform is the late Robert Theobald.

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