June 5, 2023
A universal basic income may be trialled in England for the first time, with thirty people set to be paid £1,600 per month over a two-year period regardless of personal circumstances. Researcher Autonomy is seeking funding for the pilot scheme, which it claims “has the potential to simplify the welfare system and tackle poverty in Britain”. People will be drawn from two locations in England to participate, with the scheme testing the effects of basic salary being paid to everyone regardless of wealth or job.
A basic income will be “a crucial part of securing livelihoods in the future,” Autonomy research director Will Stronge said, “with the decades ahead set to be full of economic shocks due to climate change and new forms of automation”. An investment of £1.15m would be needed to fund the basic income payments, Autonomy said, with roughly £500,000 extra required for the costs of the research and administration.
“We’re hopeful that this plan will result in the first-ever basic income pilots in England,” Goodman, who founded Autonomy’s Basic Income Conversation programme, added. “No one should ever be facing poverty, having to choose between heating and eating, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”
Under the proposed trial, thirty people would be paid £1,600 per month without any obligation to work. Participants would be drawn from Jarrow in north-east England and Grange, an area in East Finchley in north London.
The organisation has published a report called A Big Local Basic Income in which it sets out the arguments for a policy where all individuals receive a set salary every month regardless of their means. Individuals receive the salary whether they decide to work or not, and supporters argue that it reduces poverty and inequality in the community, and benefits public health.
Questions have been raised over the prospect of a universal basic income, however, with critics arguing the payments would be extremely costly and could potentially fuel inflation. There is a major feature weighing up the pros and cons of universal basic income in Issue 10 of IN Magazine.