Imagine this scenario….
It’s the end of the month and 2.1 million adults have just had £995.85 paid into their bank accounts by the government. Many are either unemployed or those working on the lowest incomes. The idea is a concept that many political parties are seriously considering, and it’s called “Universal Basic Income”, and it could be a way of lifting many people out of poverty and the debate around this will only get more pronounced in the future.
However, the scheme has its opponents as many people in the Conservative Party feel it to be a concept that disincentivises those unemployed or on low incomes from looking for work or better paid jobs.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, wants to see a universal basic income piloted in his region. It would reduce poverty to almost unheard-of levels and address inequality. He believes that Universal Basic Income is an idea ‘whose time has come’ as he discussed the cost-of-living crisis during a visit to a school in Wigan. The Mayor of Greater Manchester told pupils and parents: “Universal Basic Income, UBI, I think this is an idea whose time has come. Why, you all know, and I know living here, over the years people living in this area, the Wigan borough, have had to take on more and more insecurity when it comes to their work.”
Proponents say a UBI would lead to happier, healthier and more prosperous lives, and would engender a sense of social cohesion and equality. Could we be on the cusp of free money for all?
Professor Johnson didn’t think a universal basic income would have mass appeal, but his research found overwhelming support for a payment of almost £1,000 a month to everyone.
“We have seen over 15 years of crises that destitution is far wider than once seemed, and voters feel that a generous UBI would offer real security to everyone.”
According to a research paper, a universal basic income could lift so many people out of deprivation that poverty would fall to its lowest levels in 60 years. It could also stimulate economic growth, improve educational outcomes, and generate cultural output.
A UBI would reduce the number of social ills and save the country huge amounts of money.
Political parties including the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru have all committed to trials. Labour ministers are said to like the idea in theory.
The Centre for Social Justice argues that UBI would not be able to meet the complex support needs of many households, and that large elements of the current welfare system would have to remain in place anyway.
However, the current scenario seems bleak for those on low incomes as the Government actually has proposed cutting benefit rates for those unemployed and according to new research by the Observer, low-income households will be nearly £400 worse off annually as a result of No. 10’s intentions to increase benefits at a slower rate than inflation.
Liz Truss and her administration are debating raising welfare rates in line with earnings as opposed to inflation. According to the latest official figures, it would entail raising them by 5.5% rather than over 10%, saving roughly £5 billion.
The change would actually cost lower income people £395 more annually. The Policy in Practice consultancy predicts that households will suffer a loss of £32.91 per month. A 5.5% increase will, on average, result in a 7.7% reduction in discretionary income due to rising energy and housing costs.