Letter: Taxpayers should be happy to subsidise the unemployed

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Philpott's excellent article gives credit to the late Professor James Meade's economic view that demand should be sustained in the economy to ensure full employment. But he fails to tell his readers that Meade also consistently argued for the introduction of a Citizen's Income (or social dividend) which Philpott dismisses.

Indeed, in a pamphlet Fifteen Propositions (published in 1993 by The Employment Policy Institute of which Mr Philpott is director), Meade saw a Citizen's Income serving three purposes:

(1) It relieves poverty by guaranteeing for every citizen a sufficient Minimum Acceptable Level of income. (2) It does so without destroying incentives to work if it is not withdrawn as the citizen earns other income. (3) It provides a universal supplement to earnings which is aimed at justifying any restriction of rates of pay which is needed to ensure full employment.

Professor Meade added:

Quite rightly, Mr Philpott dismisses some of the more specious policies which are now advocated as cures for mass unemployment. There will inevitably be a "cost" for a return to full employment. But it is not without significance that Meade consistently argued the case for a Citizen's Income. Indeed, in his last book "Full Employment Regained?" published just before his death, he had again returned to the argument.

Richard Clements


Citizen's Income Trust

London WC2