Our society is going to require some form of basic income in the coming years, given the tumult of climate change, tech disruption and industrial transition that lies ahead.
A universal basic income (UBI) of £1,600 a month is to be trialled in England for the first time in a pilot programme running in two locations.
The trial will involve 30 people in central Jarrow, in north-east England, and East Finchley, in north London and is set to run for two years, with no conditions attached. The purpose of the pilot is to better understand the effects of UBI on people’s lives.
The think tank Autonomy which is backing the plan, said in a statement: “This is a substantial amount. Universal Basic Income usually covers people’s basic needs but we want to see what effect this unconditional lump sum has on people’s mental and physical health, whether they choose to work or not.
“Our society is going to require some form of basic income in the coming years, given the tumult of climate change, tech disruption and industrial transition that lies ahead. This is why building the evidence base and public engagement now is so important, so the ground is well prepared for national implementation.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted in response to the news: “So exciting to see plans for England’s first ever basic income pilot. We need big, bold ideas to provide security & dignity for all – to tackle poverty, help job security, improve wellbeing & transform society. Govt can no longer ignore it.”
It’s worth pointing out that one of the arguments used against a universal basic income is the idea that people will ‘become lazy’ or drop out of the workforce. A study examining a number of pilots and experiments of UBI found that there was no evidence to suggest this would happen.
The study, carried out by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the “overall, the programs analysed suggest either no effect on labour market supply or a slight reduction in work and earnings. The evidence does not suggest an average worker will drop out of the labour force when provided with unconditional cash, even when the transfer is large”.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward