Two articles on a UK report urging a pilot test of universal basic incomes across Britain. First:
Universal basic income: Plan to give all citizens money should be piloted in UK, report says
‘We have to lead in developing a radical mechanism aimed at eradicating poverty,’ says Labour’s John McDonnell
Zamira Rahim, Independent, May 7, 2019
Pilot schemes examining how a universal basic income system would work in the UK should be set up, a new report has said.
Guy Standing, a member of the Progressive Economy Forum (PEF) and an economic adviser to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, will submit his findings to the Labour Party.
Praising the findings, the veteran politician said: “This report is an important contribution to the debate around inequality, austerity, poverty and how we establish a fair and just economic system.
“There have been pilots of ‘basic income’ elsewhere and Guy Standing has looked at them and come forward with proposals. Whatever mechanism we use, whether ‘basic income’ or another, we have to lead in developing a radical mechanism aimed at eradicating poverty but also means testing.”
Mr McDonnell said that Mr Standing’s work was shining a light on the problems, which had been exacerbated by almost a decade of austerity.
“We will be studying the contents and recommendations of this report carefully as we put together our reform policies for the next Labour government,” he said.
The Labour Party might promise a universal basic income, a radical policy, in its next manifesto for a general election, the shadow chancellor told The Independent last year.
“It’s one of those things I think we can get into the next manifesto and see, it’s worth a try,” he said in the July 2018 interview.
In 2017 Mr McDonnell told The Independent that Labour had also set up a working group to investigate the feasibility of a basic income, led by Mr Standing.
“Basic income would be a weekly or monthly payment to every person lawfully resident in the UK, paid without conditions or means tests,” the PEF said in a statement. “It could dramatically reduce poverty, insecurity and the use of food banks while saving on the bureaucracy of current social welfare administration.
“The cost could be met by adaptation or abolition of the current personal tax allowance so that higher earners do not gain or lose from the scheme.”
Mr Standing said that while US pilot schemes had focused on labour supply, UK schemes should be centred on basic income’s impact on stress, insecurity and debt.
He has suggested a number of pilot scheme scenarios, including providing an economically deprived community with a basic weekly income instead of existing means-tested benefits, with the exception of housing benefit.
“Provisionally, it is proposed that every adult in a selected community would be provided with £100, with £50 for each child and with additional separate benefits for those with disabilities,” the report says.
Another suggested option is the government giving every adult in a community £50 per week for a year, which would not be taken into account when means-testing for benefits.
A 2017 poll by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath suggested that 49 per cent of all Britons would support a universal basic income scheme.
Other supporters of the policy also included billionaires such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Richard Branson.
“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,” said Anthony Painter, director of action and research at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce,.
“All parties aspiring to be progressive must take notice and back basic income experiments.”
Additional reporting by agencies
Labour-backed report urges trials of universal basic income
John McDonnell, who commissioned study, hints a form of UBI could become policy
Richard Partingdon, The Guardian, May 7, 2019
A Labour-backed report has called for the launch of universal basic income trials across the UK.
Universal basic income (UBI), which takes the form of regular cash payments from the government to all adult citizens, has emerged as a popular concept in recent years because it could top up low pay and reduce inequality. A feasibility study commissioned by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said a pilot scheme would work in the UK.
Although the report does not represent Labour policy, its publication is likely to be viewed as moving the party closer towards testing a form of UBI should it be voted into power.
Welcoming the launch of the report on Tuesday, McDonnell said the study by professor Guy Standing, a member of the Progressive Economy Forum – a group of left-leaning economists – was an “important contribution to the debate around inequality, austerity, poverty and how we establish a fair and just economic system”.
“Whatever mechanism we use [to achieve this], whether ‘basic income’ or another, we have to lead in developing a radical mechanism aimed at eradicating poverty, but also means testing,” he added.
The new report, Basic Income as Common Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy, puts forward a roadmap for the introduction of UBI tests in Britain, which would follow several other countries around the world that have trialled basic income policies.
Finland has conducted among the most extensive tests, although findings published earlier this year suggest that basic incomes did not materially help recipients to get a job. While a UBI could form part of a benefits system to support low-income workers and households, it could also replace unemployment benefits.
The Scottish government has worked with the RSA thinktank to explore whether a UBI programme should be piloted. Headed by Matthew Taylor – who conducted a review into the gig economy for Theresa May – the thinktank is expected to publish the findings of its work in Scotland later this week.
Anthony Painter, the director of action and research at the RSA, said that its work would “show how Scotland can proceed with its proposed pilots in a way that is progressive, affordable and would halve destitution”.
Supporters of UBI believe cash payments could help to support workers as advances in technology put growing numbers of jobs at risk. There are, however, fears that a UBI programme could dissuade people from seeking work.
Some economists argue the money would help empower individuals, enabling them to invest in their skills or to start their own company, and to avoid becoming trapped in low-paid work. Others argue UBI would be too expensive and would be difficult to set at the right level, with higher spending on public servicesa more efficient alternative.
Standing, an academic at SOAS, University of London, and a UBI specialist, suggested that the costs could be met by adapting or abolishing the system of personal tax allowances – similar to the findings of a study from the New Economics Foundation thinktank earlier this year.
He also suggested a number of possible pilot scenarios, including providing an economically deprived community with a basic weekly income instead of existing means-tested benefits – with the exception of housing benefit.
The pilots would include payments on a weekly or monthly basis to every person lawfully resident in the UK on an individual basis, paid without conditions on how the money is spent, or with any means testing to determine eligibility.
The report said: “It could dramatically reduce poverty, insecurity and the use of food banks while saving on the bureaucracy of current social welfare administration.”