Re: There is a way the gig economy can work ...
"Unless you have a plan to finance it it's [universal income] not even that" -- Doctor Syntax
It's rare that I disagree with you Doctor, but I must. We already (at least in theory) provide a welfare system that (theoretically) prevents the poorest from being homeless, starving, excluded from healthcare and their children being excluded from Education.
It's a massive bureaucratic mess employing thousands and thousands of people in unproductive jobs and the costs, well, the Universal Credit fiasco has been covered in this esteemed organ ad nauseam. It makes the welfare net "sticky" --- you can't get off welfare easily unless you go straight into some kind of job --- there's no legitimate way of doing a few hours work: people avoid work or do cash-under-the-table. And it means that we have to place huge burdens on small employers (proportionally much higher than big employers) to administrate all the various things such as Employers NI, Workplace pension, notice periods, redundancy, etc.
Why would a UI system cost more than an Universal Credit system? A person earning 50k pays 13.5k tax (including NI) every year. The bottom 11.5k of that is tax free, the top 5k is at 40% and the rest at 20%. If UI were set to 11.5k, and tax at a flat rate of 50%, that person would receive almost exactly the same amount of net income. A person earning 10k annually, who currently pays only 220 tax a year would see their income rise to 16.5k and they'd be paying 5k tax. A person earning 150k, on the other hand, currently pays 60k and receives 90k net. They'd be paying 75k and receiving 75+11.5 = 86.5k, so they would face a small drop.
Providing 11.5k annually to 45 million adults would be approaching 500 billion, sure, which is twice our current welfare system. But the overall tax take would go up, the economy would be stimulated, the huge waste in the welfare and taxation systems enormously simplified: for instance, the 50 billion spent on in-work benefits would just be completely unecessary, as would the vast machinery for managing it.
It's ridiculous to say we can't afford basic income: unless we are allowing people to starve, freeze, die unecessarily due to lack of healthcare and preventing their children from accessing free education, we are ALREADY PAYING it, just in the most ridiculous, complex and wasteful way imaginable.