Universal Basic Income Trial Planned With Participants Given £1,600 A Month For Nothing

Thirty people could be paid £1,600 a month with no obligation as part of a proposal to conduct the first trial of a universal basic income in England.

According to The BBC:

Researchers from think tank Autonomy are seeking financial backing for a two-year pilot programme to see how it would change the lives of the group.

Supporters say schemes can simplify the welfare system and tackle poverty.

Participants will be drawn from central Jarrow, in north-east England, and East Finchley, in north London.

The concept of a universal basic income sees government pays all individuals a set salary regardless of their means.

Critics of universal basic income say it would be extremely costly, would divert funding away from public services, and not necessarily help to alleviate poverty.

Autonomy said it hopes its proposed pilot will “make the case for a national basic income and more comprehensive trials to fully understand the potential of a basic income in the UK”.

“No one should ever be facing poverty, having to choose between heating and eating, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” said Cleo Goodman, co-founder of Basic Income Conversation, a programme run by the work-focused think tank.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “All the evidence shows that [a UBI] would directly alleviate poverty and boost millions of people’s wellbeing: the potential benefits are just too large to ignore.”

Autonomy’s trial is being supported by charity Big Local and Northumbria University.

Two years of community consultation has taken place in central Jarrow and East Finchley.

Anyone from the areas is able to put themselves forward to take part and can remain anonymous. While participants will be drawn randomly, the organisers plan for it to be a representative group and to be made up of 20% of people with disabilities.

On top of the £1.15m budget for the basic income payments over two years, there would be further costs of about £500,000 for the project’s evaluation activities, admin, and community support teams.

Autonomy says if funding for income payments was secured, it would most likely come from private philanthropic sources, or local or combined authorities.

There have been previous calls for a universal basic income to be used to alleviate financial hardships experienced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And last year, the Welsh Labour government announced a £20m experiment offering a universal basic income to young people leaving care.

The plan would give £1,600 a month before tax to 500 care leavers, a sum roughly in line with the living wage. The scheme is ongoing, and the Welsh government said the results would be “thoroughly evaluated”.

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