The Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) is likely to end with no commitment towards introducing a basic income grant. This traps millions dependent upon the SRD in uncertainty. What are potential pathways forward? Will it be possible to realise the universal basic income guarantee (UBIG) without an activist civil society? What are the contesting forces, within and outside the state, in making UBIG a reality? The fourth session of #BigQuestionsForUBIG webinars, co-hosted with IEJ and #PayTheGrants, opened this neglected yet urgent debate.
Given the compelling case for a guaranteed standard of living in the context of widening socioeconomic polarization, firm opposition to the UBIG is astounding. Opponents of UBIG often premise their arguments on spurious economic assumptions like the notion that inequality promotes growth. This is evident in the recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) where government elevates the trade-off argument by evaluating UBIG against pre-existing priorities of government like the employment stimulus initiative. There is also a lack of political will to implement UBIG, which is insensitive to and out of step with worsening socioeconomic destitution confronting unemployed work-age people. In this context, the agency of civil society, articulated through social movement and trade union activism, have a crucial role to play in defense of UBIG.