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United Kingdom: As the first Labour Party commissioned report on basic income comes out, renewed interest on the policy surfaces in the UK

An important report on basic income has been released in the UK, as announced before, and publicly presented at the RSA last Tuesday. In that report, one central idea is to put forward, for the UK social reality: to give every adult citizen a 100 £/week (equivalent to about 460 €/month), unconditionally and without means-testing. According to the Progressive Economic Forum (PEF), this policy can be tested in the UK in five different ways (for an year):

  1. Giving a 100 £/week (116 €/week) to every adult in a randomly selected community, plus 50 £/week (57 €/week) for children and any extra amount to account for disability necessities. The scheme would replace all benefits but the housing benefit.
  1. Giving a 70 £/week (81 €/week) to every adult in a randomly selected community, plus 20 £/week (57 €/week) for children, but keeping child benefits. All other means-tested benefits would remain in place, accounting for the unconditional transfer as income, thus reducing or eliminating the (existing) benefits paid.
  1. A 50 £/week (58 €/week) to every adult in a randomly selected community, plus any existing benefits (not considering the unconditional transfer as income).
  1. A randomly selection of adults (country-wide) on welfare seeing conditionalities removed.
  1. A randomly selection of homeless people given an unconditional cash grant, replacing other (cash or non-cash) benefits.

At the referred presentation, Labour Party’s John McDonnell, the Exchequer Shadow Chancellor, said the Labour Party is not committing to introduce basic income in the UK (if elected), but this report will definitely be instrumental for the party’s next manifesto design.

Not surprisingly, Tories in parliament stand firmly against this policy, branding it as a “handout”, and dismissing it as hugely expensive and unfair to “hardworking taxpayers”. To that, Guy Standing, main author of the referred author, has replied that governments looking forward should “at the very least introduce local pilots to see how effective it could be”. He and RSA Director Anthony Painter have been strong proponents of reducing or eliminating means-testing and conditionality in general, in a welfare system in the UK which has been “expensive to administer and is causing destitution”.  Painter summarizes by saying that “basic income-style pilots have been proven to have beneficial effects on health, well-being, and trust, while giving people more freedom to decide for themselves how to manage their lives.”

A series of articles have been produced on this issue, in several news outlets, such as the Guardian, Brave New Europe, the Mirror and BBC News. The presentation video can be watched below, and also heard on an RSA podcast.

More information at:

André Coelho, “United Kingdom: Guy Standing presenting report “Piloting Basic Income as Common Dividends”, Basic Income News, May 6th 2019

Guy Standing, “Basic Income as Commons Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy – A Report for the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer”, Progressive Economic Forum, 2019

Dan Bloom, “Basic Income: John McDonnell hails report calling for UK to pilot radical scheme”, Mirror, May 7th 2019

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 304 articles.

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

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

2 comments

  • Joyce Ireson

    Whatever happened to dignity in retirement.For many of today’s pensioners a basic income will never materialise so what’s needed is an end to the present poverty state pension of £129 20 a week for a more reasonable amount which would also do away with means tested benefits .

  • Clive Hopper

    Regular victims of the inflexible benefits system and a lot of politicians too know that the current system is not relevant or fit for the 21st century with zero hour contracts, part-time and temp work so common. Why do people have to undergo the demeaning current complicated system when it could all be so much simpler and also empower people to work part-time, study, do voluntary work or start a business without the constant worry of juggling cash from day one.

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