The Red Renta Básica association (official section of the Basic Income Earth Network) announces the offer of two scholarships, covering part of the costs to start the Interuniversity Postgraduate course in Analysis of Capitalism and Transformative Policies (from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Universitat de Barcelona). The purpose being to enable access to suitable students who are in a difficult economic situation.
In the Interuniversity Postgraduate course in Analysis of Capitalism and Transformative Policies, the main ideas of republicanism, socialism, anarchism, environmentalism, feminism and the theories of justice and the commons will be discussed. Capitalism, jobs, trade unionism and both traditional and the most recent proposals of social policies will also be analysed. Moreover, there will also be several explanations about the most relevant political and social processes. Several members of the Red Renta Básica association will be teaching in the Postgraduate course and some of its lessons will deal with basic income.
Applications are already opened, and more information can be sought at Red Renta Básica. The deadline for submitting applications ends on June 30th, 2018. The jury in charge of selecting applicants winning the scholarships is composed by three members of the Red Renta Básica board: Julen Bollain, David Casassas and Francisco Ramos.
“Wise Cities & the Universal Basic Income: Facing the Challenges of Inequality, the 4th Industrial Revolution and the New Socioeconomic Paradigm” by Josep M. Coll, was published by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) in November 2017. CIDOB is an independent think tank in Barcelona; its primary focus is the research and analysis of international issues.
The Wise Cities Model
CIDOB has published other works about a concept it calls “Wise Cities,” a term intended to holistically encompass words like “green city” or “smart city” in popular usage. Wise Cities, as defined by CIDOB and others in the Wise Cities think tank network, are characterized by a joint focus on research and people, using new technologies to improve lives, and creating useful and trusting partnerships between citizens, government, academia, and the private sector.
The 2017 report by Coll opens with a discussion of the future of global economies; it highlights mechanization of labour, potential increases in unemployment, and financial inequality. It next points to cities as centres of both population and economic innovation and experimentation. A Wise City, the paper states, will be a hub of innovation that uses economic predistribution—where assets are equally distributed prior to government taxation and redistribution—to maximize quality of life for its citizens.
Predistribution in Europe: Pilot Projects
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is one example of a predistribution policy. After touching on UBI’s history and current popularity, Coll summarizes European projects in Finland, Utrecht, and Barcelona in order to highlight city-based predistribution experiments. Coll adds that while basic income is defined as unconditional cash payments, none of these pilots fit that definition: they all target participants who are currently, or were at some time, unemployed or low-income.
Finland’s project began in January 2017, and reduces the bureaucracy involved in social security services. It delivers an unconditional (in the sense of non-means-tested and non-work-tested after the program begins) income of 560 €/month for 2,000 randomly selected unemployed persons for two years. Eventual analysis will consist of a comparison with a larger control group of 175,000 people, and the pilot is a public initiative.
The city of Utrecht and Utrecht University designed an experiment which would also last two years, and would provide basic income of 980 €/month to participants already receiving social assistance. The evaluation would assess any change in job seeking, social activity, health and wellness, and an estimate of how much such a program would cost to implement in full. The author comments that the program was suspended by the Netherlands Ministry of Social Affairs, and the pilot is currently under negotiation.
Barcelona has begun an experiment with 1,000 adult participants in a particularly poor region of the city, who must have been social services recipients in the past. “B-Mincome” offers a graduated 400-500 €/month income depending on the household. After two years, the pilot will be assessed by examining labour market reintegration, including self-employment and education, as well as food security, health, wellbeing, social networks, and community participation. Because the income is household-based, and not paid equally to each individual, it is not a Basic Income, but the results could still provide useful evidence for the possible effects of a future Basic Income.
Coll identifies several key takeaways from a comparison of these projects. None of the experiments assess the potential behavioural change in rich or middle class basic income recipients. In addition, multi-level governance may cause problems for basic income pilots, but these issues may be mitigated as more evidence assessing the effectiveness of UBI builds from city-driven programs. Coll also acknowledges that all of the experiments listed in his paper are from affluent regions.
In conclusion, the author argues that UBI is a necessary step to alleviate economic inequality. While cities are experimenting with the best ways to implement UBI, they are often not real UBI trials (as they are not universal), and they do not always take an individual-based approach; however, they are nevertheless useful components of the Wise City model.
More information at:
Josep M. Coll, “Why Wise Cities? Conceptual Framework,” Colección Monografı́as CIDOB, October 2016
Josep M. Coll, “Wise Cities & the Universal Basic Income: Facing the Challenges of Inequality, the 4th Industrial Revolution and the New Socioeconomic Paradigm,” Notes internacionals CIDOB no. 183, November 2017
Íñigo Errejón, at the 7th Basic Income Simposium.
On the 2nd of November 2017, the city of Zaragoza (Spain) welcomed the 17th Basic Income Simposium, organized by Red Renta Básica (the Basic Income Network affiliate in Spain), which lasted for three days.
In the first day, during the afternoon, the documentary “In the same boat” (trailer here) was screened, followed by interventions by David Casassas (Social Theory professor at the University of Barcelona and member of Red Renta Básica), who explained the normative and technical aspects of basic income, Txema Sánchez (member of Red Renta Básica and the Nulla Política Sina Éthica collective) and Rudy Gnutti (“In the same boat” film director), who claims there is no Left nor Right basic income.
On the second day, the meeting started with a roundtable on how to finance a basic income. This was moderated by Fernando Rivares (from the Zaragosa municipality) and debated by Jordi Arcarons (PhD in Applied Economics at the University of Barcelona), Lluís Torrens (Director of Social Rights Planning and Innovation of the Barcelona municipality), alongside Raúl Burrillo and Jorge Bielsa Callau (Economy professor at the University of Zaragosa). Although it has been shown that a basic income can be financed for the Spanish reality, the financing problem has been a widely debated issue. In the afternoon, Pablo Yanes (CEPAL research coordinator in Mexico) presented his take on what has been developing as the basic income inclusion in the Mexico City Constitution.
On a second roundtable, moderated by Violeta Barba (Aragón Congress president), Daniel Raventós (PhD in Economic Sciences and president of Red Renta Básica), Íñigo Errejón (PhD in Political Science and Congressman for Unidos Podemos political party), Amparo Bella (historian, feminist and Congresswoman at Aragón by the Podemos political party) and Pedro Santisteve (from the Zaragosa municipality) debated around the bold theme “unconditional basic income”. At this moment, Santisteve approaches basic income from a constitutional right perspective. According to him, these rights shall be “locked” inside the constitution, so they cannot be tramped with by any one government. Amparo Bella then introduced basic income under a feminist perspective. This way, basic income shall value all kinds of labour, stressing that work is much more than a job. In his turn, Íñigo defended the upgrade of the welfare state, where basic income shall be the backbone of the needed constitutional reform. Finally, Raventós has pointed out that knowing about the basic income proposal is a crucial step towards supporting it, and that no one can really be free unless he or she has their material needs met.
On the last day, in the morning, the last roundtable took place. This was named “30 years of minimum income: the alternative, basic income”. The discussion then circulated around the failure to eradicate poverty through these (conditional) minimum income schemes, and around the possible alternatives. The debate was moderated by Luisa Broto (from the Zaragosa municipality Social Services) and had the presentations of Mari Carmen Mesa (Spokeswoman to Aragón Social Workers union), Sonia García (CCOO Social Action Secretary) and Julen Bollain (Euskadi Congressman and Red Renta Básica member). Mar Carmen started by showing reservations about the implementation of the basic income scheme in the short term. In the same vein, Sonia García rejected basic income in favour of a (conditional) minimum income scheme (of 430 €/month) which has been presented to the Spanish Congress by CCOO and UGT. However, Bollain argued that in fact conditional minimum income schemes have failed all around the world in the last few decades. He claimed that none of such schemes ever eradicated poverty, but still introduced unnecessary stigma, bureaucracy and administrative costs. He thinks that society must overcome these targeted, conditional policies and fight for the universal, unconditional rights that basic income represents.
More information at:
Jullen Bollain, “El XVII simposio de la Red Renta Básica: ¿punto de inflexión? [The 17th Red Renta Básica Simposium: an inflection point?]”, Red Renta Básica, November 12th 2017
The Green European Foundation will host a workshop about Basic Income during the upcoming 9th Edition of Univerde, a University Summer program that is one of the largest forums for debate on ecology and politics in Spain. Univerde is organized by the Green European Foundation together with the EQUO foundation with support from the political party Los Verdes/ALE and the European Parliament.
The event will take place at the University of La Rioja in Logroño, Spain on September 8 and 9. The Basic Income Workshop will happen on September 9. Participants include: Philippe Van Parijs, Belgian philosopher and political economist, and a professor at the Faculty of Economics, Social and Political Sciences of the Catholic University of Louvain; Hontanares Arran, Member of the Movimiento ATD Cuarto Mundo and member of EQUO; Lluís Torrens, economist, member of the Basic Income Network and Director of Planning and Innovation of the Social Rights Area of the Barcelona City Council; Julen Bollai, economist and researcher, member of the Basque Parliament with the Coalition of Elkarrekin Podemos, and member of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN); and Jorge M. Neira, member of EQUO.
The workshop titled “Moving towards Basic Income: a Pilot Program for the City of Madrid” will evaluate Basic Income as an alternative to poverty and exclusion. it will look at the possibility of developing a pilot program at a local level in Madrid to prepare for a generalized implementation of Basic Income. They will analyze the proposal suggested by the Spanish organization Marea Básica for a pilot program in a neighborhood in Madrid that is riddled with poverty and exclusion. Experts on Basic Income will give their opinion on this possible pilot program, and the workshop will be used to debate Basic Income as a social protection alternative that is ecologically sustainable.
Univerde IX Edition in Spain
Moving towards Basic Income at Univerde
Kate McFarland, “MADRID, SPAIN: “UBI is Coming!” (UBIE conference, Oct 15-16)”, October 12th, 2016
Program of the Univerde Workshops
In October 2017, the city of Barcelona, Spain, will launch a two-year experiment testing several variants of a guaranteed income and active policies to reduce poverty rates.
The project has been called B-MINCOME in reference to the Canadian province of Manitoba’s Mincome experiment, a guaranteed annual income trial conducted in the late 1970s.
The design of B-MINCOME, which was first discussed in Basic Income News in February, has recently been finalized. It will be conducted in the Besòs area, the city’s poorest region, and include 2000 households. These households will comprise a stratified random sample from Besòs area households which have at least one member between ages 25 and 60 and which are current beneficiaries of the city’s Municipal Social Services. (Participation in the experiment is voluntary for the households selected, in contrast to Finland’s basic income experiment in which participation was made mandatory to avoid self-selection bias.)
Of the selected households, 1000 will be assigned to a control group, while the other 1000 will be assigned (at random) to one of ten treatment groups, all of which will receive cash income supplements (Municipal Inclusion Support or SMI). Treatment groups differ according to whether the SMI is accompanied by an additional program and whether the SMI is means tested.
The amount of the SMI will depend upon household composition and financial status, but will range from 100 to 1676 euros per month per household. For example, a four-member household with no assets and a total monthly income of 900 euros would receive an SMI of about 400 euros per month. Participants will continue to receive Municipal Social Services, but these will be deduced from the SMI.
For 450 households in the study, the SMI will be delivered without any additional associated policies. For this group, the benefit will carry no terms or conditions beyond those made necessary by the constraints of the experiment: participants must continue to reside in the Besòs area until the conclusion of the trial on September 30, 2019, and they must agree to the terms of the experiment (e.g. consent to be anonymously monitored for research purposes, communicate changes in income or household status to those administering the experiment, and install a mobile app to communicate with experimenters). Importantly, receipt of the SMI is not conditional on a willingness to work or fulfill any other participation requirement.
These 450 households will be further divided into two treatment groups: one in which the SMI is means tested (the amount of the payments will be reduced according to the amount of additional household earnings), and one in which participants will receive the full amount of the SMI for the duration of the experiment, regardless of additional income.
Thus, the latter treatment group will receive a benefit extremely similar to a basic income–a guaranteed monthly cash payment with no work requirement or means test–with the slight difference that its amount depends on household composition.
The remaining 550 households will not only receive the SMI but also be subject to an associated social policy. These households will be distributed among eight treatment groups, according to (a) the associated policy and, in the first three groups, (b) whether participation in the policy is mandatory or voluntary. The policies include (1) an occupation and education program (150 households), (2) a social and cooperative economy program (100 households), (3) a guaranteed housing program, and (4) a community participation program (200 households).
Within the fourth group, half of the households will be assigned to a treatment group in which the SMI is means tested, half to one in which it is not.
The researchers conducting B-MINCOME are interested in the extent to which the SMI reduces poverty and social exclusion, and which particular models of SMI are most effective for this purpose. For instance, is the SMI more effective when combined with any particular associated policy, or with none at all? And is the SMI more or less effective if it is means tested?
To examine the impact on poverty and social exclusion, researchers will examine, more specifically, changes in labor market participation, food security, housing security, energy access, economic situation, education participation and attainment, community networks and participation, and health, happiness, and well-being.
Researchers will additionally examine whether the SMI reduces the administrative and bureaucratic responsibilities of social workers.
B-MINCOME is supported by a grant from Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), an initiative of the European Commission that supports projects investigating “innovative and creative solutions” in urban areas. The Barcelona City Council partnered with five research organizations and institutions to design and conduct the experiment: the Young Foundation, the Institute of Governance and Public Policy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the Catalan Institution for Evaluation of Public Policies, and NOVACT-International Institute for Non-Violent Action.
B-MINCOME has maintained connections to global basic income movements throughout its design phase. The designers of B-MINCOME consulted with representatives from the governments of Finland, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the Dutch municipality of Utrecht, who have been involved with the design of guaranteed income experiments in their own areas. In addition, the project team contains several members of BIEN’s Spanish affiliate, Red Renta Básica.
The leading political party in Barcelona’s City Council, the left-wing Barcelona en Comú, hopes to implement a municipal cash transfer program following the results of the B-MINCOME pilot, in part with the goal of reducing the bureaucracy associated with the administration of Municipal Social Services and reducing total expenditures on social policies.
Thanks to Bru Laín for details of the design of B-MINCOME, and Genevieve Shanahan for copyediting this article.
Photo: Barcelona, CC BY 2.0 Bert Kaufmann