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Universal Basic Services

We believe that providing Universal Basic Services enhances people’s capacities and capabilities, bringing opportunities for greater economic and social participation through a shared infrastructure of public services.

What are Universal Basic Services?

Universal Basic Services (UBS) are a collection of public services free at the point of need and use, that enable every citizen to live a larger life by ensuring access to safety, opportunity, and enhanced democratic participation.

Developed by our Social Prosperity Network which published the UK's first report on Universal Basic Services in October 2017 and co-chaired by IGP Director Professor Henrietta Moore and Andrew Percy, the idea focuses on a whole-systems approach to public services at the local level, looking at the intersections between multiple forms of insecurity and deprivation that people experience in their everyday lives.

UBS would help to build a solid foundation from which people can thrive, drive place-based change and be resilient in the face of the next wave of social, economic and structural transformations within the economy, such as data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and climate change.



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“If we are to increase social cohesion, provide an adequate safety net and secure people’s livelihoods, we must transform our existing welfare system for the 21st century challenges including the cost of living, climate change and automation.”

Prof. Henrietta L. Moore

Founder and Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity

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Can we afford UBS?

In our 2017 report, we calculated that a programme of UBS would cost approximately £42bn or 2.3% of GDP. In 2021, we published a report, 'National Contributions', on reform and simplification of the UK tax system.


The report calls for the modernisation of the UK’s tax system to fund levelling-up and Net Zero. It shows that the UK can afford both objectives without raising taxes on wages. The detailed modelling in the report demonstrates how taxing all forms of income equally, both active (e.g. wages) and passive (e.g. dividends), could generate £44 billion a year.

This report was the first to investigate the simplification of the tax system that has been called for by the government’s own Office for Tax Simplification, and major think tanks, in recent years. An accompanying report, 'Universal Basic Prosperity' was also published which reviews the path of taxation in developed societies.


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