Today, I questioned the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions on whether the UK Government will undertake further research on the option of a universal basic income.
Last week, it was announced that Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional monthly sum with the aim of boosting employment & reducing poverty. A Basic Income (Citizen’s Income or Universal Grant) is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship. Similar to a. Child Benefit, it is for everyone, and is tax-exempt.
I’ve previously discussed the topic with representatives of Citizen’s Income Trust, RSA and Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland. I led the first ever debate on a universal basic income at Westminster on Wednesday 14th September.
Alongside this, I spoke at a conference co-sponsored by Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland & RSA on promoting public understanding and support for Basic Income (BI).
It’s evident there is larger voice being formed in-favour of the introduction of a universal basic income and this includes within the political sphere. The current welfare system is complex, and not fit for purpose, and the option of a universal basic income could be a starting point for addressing the wrongs of the system and providing people with a much needed safety net.
Therefore, I am disappointed the Minister refused to fund research into a universal basic income, rather he dismissed the subject out of hand. This differs dramatically to countries such as Finland, Italy, Netherlands, USA and Canada who are pressing ahead with UBI projects.
As I’ve previously argued, I believe a universal basic income is an idea whose time has come.