Wall painting in Sheffield.

The Universal Basic Income (UBI) Lab Sheffield, a campaigning group working from the city of Sheffield, northern UK, has written to all the 84 city councilors in the region, as a move to have them support a local basic income experiment.

The main driver behind the initiative is to “ensure that nobody is economically left out, and that nobody lives in poverty”, in the words of Sam Gregory. This basic income experiment, as proposed by the UBI Lab Sheffield, would be applied in one of three ways:

  1. Removing conditions from social benefits from around 4000 ill or disabled people (while another 4000 people group act as control group) (costing around 18 million £);
  1. Paying 130 £/month (Note 1) to 4000 adults living next to each other (for instance, in a neighbourhood) (costing around 23 million £);
  1. Applying different tax and benefits rules to a 4000 people group, whereas one subset would get, unconditionally, 6000 £/year, disabled or retired people would receive benefits above that level, and children would benefit from a smaller amount. Costing 60 million £, the test pilot would be funded by a new income tax (applied only within that 4000 people group), ensuring that all those earning less than 25000 £/year would see a net raise in their income.

This experiment is set to last for three years, according to the UBI Lab Sheffield’s design strategy. The idea is to measure several outputs, including but not limited to participation in the (paid) workforce, such as broader activity and personal care. Interviews and other qualitative studies would also be a part of all options, as described above.

Campaigners consider Sheffield a promising basic income test ground, but recognize that the city has no funding options for such an experiment. So, it would have to depend on central government financing, which can be more difficult, considering all the political agitation at the moment due to the Brexit-related issues (Sheffield was one of Britain’s cities to marginally vote pro-Brexit). However, the Labour Party is strong in Sheffield (holds 53 out of 84 seats in the city council), and its candidates for the upcoming elections in May already asked UBI Lab Sheffield for information. Sheffield Green Party is also supporting an UBI experiment in the city, as part of its campaign to the city council elections.

Note 1 – The National Living Wage in the UK is around 1300 £/month (calculated from hourly living rate for workers aged 25 and over).

More information at:

Mike Brown, “Universal Basic Income: Brexit-Voting Sheffield May Be England’s First Test”, Inverse, April 1st 2019

Mark Bryan, Jason Leman (lead authors), “Proposal for a Sheffield pilot“, UBI LAB Sheffield, March 2019

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 367 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.