Alternate History

Social Wage (Caroline Era)

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The Social Wage is a controversial scheme set up by the Healey government in 1991, and is considered one of the reasons for the Labour defeat in 1993. Similar policies have since been adopted by other European countries.

The Social Wage has been called, satirically, the "Final Solution" to unemployment. Everyone over eighteen and on application some under eighteen are entitled to a certain income provided by the government, not tied to any requirement to look for or be available for work. This replaces a number of other benefits, particularly supplementary and unemployment benefit, as well as student grants. There are, however, other conditions. In particular, all men must take the Male pill if also unemployed, regardless of relationship status, relevant medication is also compulsory under the scheme if one is diagnosed with a mental health problem, and above the age of sixty there is no entitlement to NHS treatment of any kind, with the exception of the Consolamentum euthanasia pill which is available for free, though this only applies to people not in receipt of a full pension. There are weekly urine tests for the medication requirement among the unemployed. Employed people of working age are not subject to these requirements. The requirement for male contraception is intended to prevent children from being born on welfare and being supported throughout their lives by the state. One side-effect of the male pill is that after two years about half the men who take it regularly become permanently sterile. Sterilised men are exempt and there is some pressure for unemployed men to be sterilised.

These aspects of the social wage are alleged to make it a form of compulsory sterilisation and in some cases euthanasia.

The social wage also means that income tax for most people is about 50% and is seen as a reward for laziness by many. These were the two reasons it was responsible for the Labour defeat, but it was retained by their successors because it is seen as preventing social unrest and the level of control it allows over the poor is considered desirable.

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