The basic income system is a radical redesign of tax and welfare - completely redrawing the relationship between the state and the citizen.
Under such a system, every individual would be given a cash payment at regular intervals, without any requirement to work or demonstrate a willingness to work. Several different figures have been suggested, mostly in the rough area of £100 a week for adults.
As the name suggests, it would be universal - paid out to every citizen regardless of their wealth, employment or personal status - and would be enough to cover the basics of life. It would serve as a replacement for existing benefits payments such as jobseeker's allowance.
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), a charity which has undertaken extensive studies about basic income, call it "a basic platform on which people can build their lives - whether they want to earn, learn, care or set up a business".
Enthusiasm about the possibilities of a basic income has sprung up in several countries in recent years, but it is by no means a new idea. References to such a scheme date back as far as 1516, and have been debated by political theorists and philosophers ever since.