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University of Bath


This report analyses the cost and distributional consequences of proposed incremental reforms to the UK social security system.

Proposals for Universal Basic Income (UBI) have risen in political salience in the last decade but the policy has yet to be introduced by any national government. Governments and NGOs have designed field experiments to test the impact of policies that share many features with a UBI and researchers have produced many microsimulation studies showing that a UBI can reduce poverty with only moderate increases in taxes.

In this paper, authors Dr Joe Chrisp, Professor Nick Pearce and Professor Matteo Richiardi draw on research that suggests political actors that support UBI tend to propose incremental reforms or ‘steps’ towards a UBI as well as indicating their long-term goal. They do a microsimulation analysis of nine proposed incremental reforms in the UK that would make the social security system for working-age adults more universal, unconditional and generous. However, they do so by maintaining the existing household based Universal Credit system. They analyse the cost and distributional consequences of these reforms and briefly discuss the consequences for marginal effective tax rates.