Life's Essentials

Life's essentials include education, healthcare, shelter, secure and non-threatening work, water, nutrition, security, significant primary relationships and a safe environment.  The list is evidence-based and stable across time and space. But it can evolve as conditions change. Recent research suggests that transport and digital access are now essential.

Some needs we can meet directly.  Food is an obvious example.  Everyone should have enough money to buy food. 

Money can’t buy what it takes to meet other needs. For healthcare, education, childcare, adult social care, we rely on collective measures.  

By pooling resources and sharing risks, we can help each other, providing services for all according to need not ability to pay.  


In all cases, including food and housing and transport, some collective measures are necessary. Regulation, public investment and other policies make sure everyone’s needs are met to a sufficient standard and no-one is excluded.

The Social Guarantee reclaims and re-engineers the collective ideal that inspired the welfare state.  Each of life’s essentials calls for a different combination of individual and collective contributions.  Secure access to universal services is a highly valuable ‘social income’.