The Campaign for Universal Inheritance

Welcome to the website of the Campaign for Universal Inheritance.

Universal Inheritance is the idea that in a liberal capitalist democracy every young national-born citizen should receive a basic minimum inheritance of capital at a financially responsible age. Universal Inheritance as well as Universal Suffrage. Capital for all as well as votes for all.

In our so-called un-ideological age, a new liberal political ideology of Popular Capitalism is waiting to replace the widely but unconsciously held conservative political ideology of unlimited Dynastic Capitalism. It will bring about greater financial equality of opportunity and so the wider spread of wealth, higher education, enterprise and home ownership in each new generation.

British Universal Inheritance would initially be a basic minimum inheritance of £10,000 (less than 10 pc of average wealth of every adult and child in the UK ) for all young adult British born UK citizens on reaching the age of 25.

British Universal Inheritance would be a universal addition at the age of 25 to the UK Baby Bonds (which are inappropriately means tested between £250 and £500 according to whether parents just happen to be or not to be on income support at the time of a baby's birth). These Baby Bonds, in combination with the UK Child Trust Fund Savings Incentives Scheme, are not even universal at the time of birth. They will be very far from universal in value when they are handed over at the age of 18.

Banks will be able to lend to those over 18 against the certain receipt of £10,000 at the age of 25. Government will be able to subsidize interest rates on such loans for approved purposes such as business start up, education and home ownership.

British Universal Inheritance will be financed by a reformed Inheritance Tax (IHT) on giving and bequeathing capital in tandem with and deductible from a new tax on receiving unearned capital gifts and bequests.

The present 40 pc so-called Inheritance Tax is seriously unfair because of all its vast and unlimited exemptions for the wealthy. It would be transformed into a flat 10 pc Value Given Tax (VGT) on the luxury expenditure of inter-generational capital giving and bequeathing (less than 17.5 pc VAT on ordinary expenditure!). Current annual and gift-out-of-income exemptions would continue. All other exemptions for inter-generational lifetime capital gifts and agricultural, business and shareholding asset-linked exemptions would be abolished.

Intra-generational transfers between partners, spouses and cohabiting siblings would not be taxed.

In tandem with the 10 pc VGT (reformed IHT) a new progressive cumulative unearned Capital Receipts Tax (CRT) would be introduced on lifetime receipts of all unearned gifted and inherited capital, starting with a broad 10 pc band.

For beneficiaries of modest lifetime unearned capital receipts falling within the 10 pc band, any tax will already have been paid by donors. Those who receive large fortunes during their lifetime, above the 10 pc band, will pay tax at progressive rates so that all other British-born young adult UK citizens will receive a basic minimum inheritance, which will itself be clawed back by any higher rates of the progressive CRT later in life.

British Universal Inheritance will:

- reduce alienation, financial and social exclusion, poverty and inequality of opportunity in each new generation

- increase education, entrepreneurial activity, home ownership, genuinely greater financial opportunity for all and the wider spread of the private ownership of wealth in each new generation

- as part of an Asset Welfare State, reduce the need for and therefore the cost of the Income Welfare State safety net in each new generation.

- be introduced over a five year period, at £2,000 for 25 year olds in the first year up to £10,000 for 25 year olds in the fifth and subsequent years, so that no year group misses out by more than £2,000 vis a vis the next during the introductory period.


Politically, most of those under 25 will benefit. Parents and grandparents will be pleased to see young adult children and grandchildren being given a capital start in life at the responsible age of 25, that many would have difficulty in providing themselves. Once British Universal Inheritance has been introduced with the above parameters, the amounts and rates will of course be the subject of further political debate. Elitist conservative or paternalistic socialist minds will argue for less than £10,000. Egalitarian, liberal democratic, meritocratic and progressive conservative minds will argue for more. A minority of young adults will of course continue to receive vastly more than £10,000 from trusts and family generosity.

Once introduced in the UK , we will then be in a position to encourage other countries, in particular those in receipt of international aid, to adopt their own National Universal Inheritance schemes.


The Campaign for Universal Inheritance was founded in 1996. British Universal Inheritance was adopted as party policy of the EU-sceptic / EU- reform-or-else-withdraw Liberal Party at the 120th Annual Liberal Party Assembly in 2005. Not, however, by the EU-fanatic Liberal Democrats, whose idea of redistribution of wealth is a reduction of income tax!

British Universal Inheritance is a big meritocratic idea, comparable with the Thatcherite sale of council houses, only a great deal fairer. Which UK political party will be next to adopt it as policy?

Perhaps New Labour, now that Labour has overcome its objection to everyone owning capital, as it comes to realise how unequal the combination of Baby Bonds and Child Trust Funds will be for young adults. Perhaps the Greens, with their emphasis on equality and reforming IHT to bear on receiving rather than on giving. Perhaps UKIP, for a better and fairer independent UK, although their current policy, disgracefully, is to abolish IHT altogether. Or even the Conservative Party, if it genuinely wishes to bring about an Opportunity Society, although for that it will have to overcome the objections of many of those who currently pay no tax at all on the transfer to the next generation of unlimited amounts of exempt agricultural, business and shareholding assets and lifetime gifts of capital.

And now, in May 2010, we have a Liberal Democrat Conservative coalition promising to abolish Baby Bonds facing New Labour once again fighting Old Labour. Which will be first?

There is an article on British Universal Inheritance in the Vol 13 No 4 2005 issue of Renewal - The Journal of Labour politics.  See 'Archive' on the website  The Conservative Party has pledged in the past, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, that 'we will redistribute wealth' and 'empower people'. How else, other than with British Universal Inheritance, do they propose to do this?

Dane Clouston MA(Oxon) ACIB

Director, OPPORTUNITY - The Campaign for British Universal Inheritance

Director, The Campaign for Universal Inheritance

P R E S S   R E L E A S E - May 2006   Dane Clouston, speaking on  BBC Radio 4 "What is Left?" programme. 

From the audience of the BBC programme "What is Left?", recorded at the Left of Centre think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Reform, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 8 pm and 8.45 pm Wednesday 10th May 2006: .

"Meritocracy has a lot to do with equal opportunity.  I stood as a Liberal in Newbury back in 1974 [Con 24,000, Lib 23,000, Lab 10,000 - Oh for the Single Transferable Vote in existing Single member constituencies!] and I stood on a platform of greater equality of opportunity in education, health and the inheritance of wealth.  Redistribution of wealth, as distinct from income, has been ignored, and ought to be addressed." 

The Chairman was Jonathan Freedland, of the Guardian - journalist and broadcaster.  The panel consisted of Lord Roy Hattersley - former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman QC MP - Solicitor General, Charles Leadbeater - writer and Hilary Wainwright - Socialist feminist and Editor of Red Pepper magazine.  

 Dane Clouston speaking on BBC Radio 4 "What is Right?" programme

 Recorded in the Centre Right think tank Policy Exchange and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 8 pm and 8.45 pm on Wednesday 17th May 2006:  

 "I would like to go back to the Conservative Party response to the need for change - and relate it to inequalities of wealth.  As Director of OPPORTUNITY - The Campaign for British Universal Inheritance, I treasure this copy of the Daily Telegraph (December 23rd 2005, duly waved about in the air), with its front page headline "Letwin: We will redistribute wealth" and "empower people".  The Right are sometimes surprisingly good at redistributing wealth - after all, they sold off the Council houses.    I hope that the next big meritocratic idea from the Right will be a reformed negative and progressive inheritance tax to give every young British-born citizen at 25 a significant chunk of capital, [see ] regardless of the circumstances, savings skills or investment skills of their parents". 

The Chairman was Matthew D'Ancona, Editor of the Spectator.  The panel consisted of Rt Hon Lord Norman Tebbit, Dr Robin Harris, CBE - former speech writer to Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, MP - Chairman of the Conservative Party and Nicholas Boles, Director of Policy Exchange.


Director, OPPORTUNITY - The Campaign for British Universal Inheritance
Director, The Campaign for Universal Inheritance
PO Box 1148 Oxford OX44 7AT