Thirty people in England will be given £1,600 a month, supposedly with no strings attached, in the country’s first universal basic income trial (UBI).
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Researchers from the think tank Autonomy are seeking financial backing for a two-year pilot program to see how it would change the group’s lives.
The idea is to create a guaranteed income for everybody in society and cover people’s basic needs to make a minimum income floor. The UBI will be paid to individuals rather than households and issued as regular sums rather than a one-off lump sum.
Participants will be drawn from central Jarrow, northeast England, and East Finchley, north London.
As it is universal, there will be no testing nor requirements to be met, and everyone is entitled to it no matter how much they earn. The payment will come in cash form – as in money straight to a bank account rather than vouchers or as food or services.
“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 program run by the work-focused think tank.
For many, a universal basic income is a way to tackle both poverty and inequality; For others, it is an expensive waste of money.
It focuses on two areas in the U.K., one in East Finchley in the capital of London, often associated with a higher cost of living, and one in central Jarrow in the northeast of the country.
Local citizens could put themselves forward to participate in the trial, and participant selection would be random. However, autonomy has said they would work to ensure the trial group is representative.
Opponents of the socialist-style scheme express concerns that giving people a universal basic income would create perverse incentives that could have massive ramifications on the labor market.
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