politics

Universal Basic Income welfare scheme could halve poverty, report claims


A study ordered Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner revealed the potential benefits of a revolutionary welfare shake-up

Wallet full of UK money
Universal Basic Income could lift people out of poverty – but has many critics

Poverty would be halved if a Universal Basic Income was launched, a report claims today.

A study commissioned by Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner said the move would slash overall Welsh poverty rates by 50% – and cut child poverty by 64%.

In its pure form, the welfare scheme sees everyone given a set amount of cash regardless of whether they are homeless, penniless and unemployed or a yacht-owning, mansion-dwelling billionaire.

Supporters say the system helps create a level playing field for the hardest up in society.

Critics claim it offers a disincentive to work and gives the rich extra money.






Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe

Wales will pilot a scheme, expected to start next year and involving care leavers.

Fewer than 5,000 are expected to be included.

But Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe wants children, the employed, the unemployed, pensioners and care leavers to take part in the trial.

A pilot of 2,500 people could cost around £50million, with adults being paid from £60 per week, according to a study by think tank Autonomy published today.

Ms Howe, who is due to give evidence to the Welsh Parliament’s Petitions Committee, said: “The introduction of a Universal Basic Income could completely transform society by delivering a more equal, prosperous Wales.







UBI could help people avoid financial stress
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Piloting a UBI trial here in Wales gives us a chance to increase the prosperity of every single person, giving more people a life jacket when they need to keep their head above the water – which has the potential to create a healthier, more equal population.”

Autonomy co-director Will Stronge said: “There is a strong appetite amongst the Welsh public for trying out basic income, and this comprehensive study sets out the road map for getting there.

“The Covid-19 pandemic necessitates radical and bold changes to support people through future economic shocks.

“As the economy and labour market struggles to find its feet, it’s clear that guaranteeing an income floor for all is the most progressive way of securing livelihoods.”






Will Stronge, co-director of think tank Autonomy

Jack Sargeant MS, who chairs the Petitions Committee, which led the Senedd’s first debate on UBI, said it was “exactly the sort of idea we should be looking at”.

He added: “We should not be afraid of bold ideas and change and we should be willing to follow the evidence.”

A review into a UBI pilot in Finland, which ran from 2017 to 2018, found people who took part were generally more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain, depression, sadness and loneliness.







Labour MS Jack Sargeant chairs the Senedd’s Petitions Committee
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Image:

Daily Mirror)

They also worked slightly more than those on unemployment benefits.

However, the Finnish scheme was ultimately considered a failure.

Yet experts have since said the trial was flawed because it was underfunded and rushed.





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