Citizen Stake

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Will Paxton and Stuart White with Dominic Maxwell (eds), THE CITIZEN'S STAKE: Exploring the future of universal asset based policies, The Policy Press, University of Bristol, 2006, 212pp, £15.99 (paperback).


Review

By James Robertson at http://www.jamesrobertson.com/newsletter.htm#citizen


"Two of the three editors and two other contributors to this book are from the Institute of Public Policy Research, which describes itself as "the UK's leading progressive think tank". In 2000 it conceived the Child Trust Fund announced in 2005 by the present government. New Labour has followed up other IPPR policy research findings too. The book is important for that reason, as well as for its own merits.


Starting from Thomas Paine's idea that a modest stake in the value of society's resources could help people to become "useful and profitable citizens", the book discusses:


  • possible ways of financing a citizen's stake , including a reformed inheritance tax and stakeholder trusts to reclaim the value of common assets like land and the environment and other natural resources; and
  • questions about how people should be allowed to spend their citizen's stake : should they be unrestricted in what they use it for? Or should its spending be limited to such activities as training or providing care? What principles should govern any restrictions designed to ensure its being used responsibly?


The book was launched at an IPPR event on 19th April to discuss questions like:


  • Can and should asset-based policies like the Child Trust Fund become a “fourth pillar" of the welfare state?
  • Can they form the basis for a more egalitarian form of market economy?
  • Can asset-based policies be paid for from taxes on inheritances, or "common assets" like land value?
  • How can and should the state promote the responsible use of universal capital grants?
  • How might asset-based welfare improve the work-life balance and support carers?"