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Report: Pilot experiments examining how a universal basic income system would work in the UK should be set up
Zamira Rahim | May 7, 2019
Topic category: Pilots & Experiments

Pilot schemes examining how a universal basic income system would work in the UK should be set up, a new report has said.

Guy Standing, a member of the Progressive Economy Forum (PEF) and an economic adviser to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, will submit his findings to the Labour Party.

Praising the findings, the veteran politician said: “This report is an important contribution to the debate around inequality, austerity, poverty and how we establish a fair and just economic system.

“There have been pilots of ‘basic income’ elsewhere and Guy Standing has looked at them and come forward with proposals. Whatever mechanism we use, whether ‘basic income’ or another, we have to lead in developing a radical mechanism aimed at eradicating poverty but also means testing.”

Mr McDonnell said that Mr Standing’s work was shining a light on the problems, which had been exacerbated by almost a decade of austerity.

“We will be studying the contents and recommendations of this report carefully as we put together our reform policies for the next Labour government,” he said.

The Labour Party might promise a universal basic income, a radical policy, in its next manifesto for a general election, the shadow chancellor told The Independent last year.

“It’s one of those things I think we can get into the next manifesto and see, it’s worth a try,” he said in the July 2018 interview.

In 2017 Mr McDonnell told The Independent that Labour had also set up a working group to investigate the feasibility of a basic income, led by Mr Standing.

“Basic income would be a weekly or monthly payment to every person lawfully resident in the UK, paid without conditions or means tests,” the PEF said in a statement. “It could dramatically reduce poverty, insecurity and the use of food banks while saving on the bureaucracy of current social welfare administration.

“The cost could be met by adaptation or abolition of the current personal tax allowance so that higher earners do not gain or lose from the scheme.”

Mr Standing said that while US pilot schemes had focused on labour supply, UK schemes should be centred on basic income’s impact on stress, insecurity and debt.

He has suggested a number of pilot scheme scenarios, including providing an economically deprived community with a basic weekly income instead of existing means-tested benefits, with the exception of housing benefit.

“Provisionally, it is proposed that every adult in a selected community would be provided with £100, with £50 for each child and with additional separate benefits for those with disabilities,” the report says.

Another suggested option is the government giving every adult in a community £50 per week for a year, which would not be taken into account when means-testing for benefits.

A 2017 poll by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bathsuggested that 49 per cent of all Britons would support a universal basic income scheme.

Other supporters of the policy also included billionaires such as Facebookfounder Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Richard Branson.

“Basic income style pilots have been proven to have beneficial effects on health, well-being and trust, while giving people more freedom to decide for themselves how to manage their lives,” said Anthony Painter, director of action and research at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce,.

“All parties aspiring to be progressive must take notice and back basic income experiments.

Tags: UK, Guy Standing, Progressive Economic Forum, Labour Partry, John McDonnell,
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Find out more about how the UK is exploring UBI. Brought to you by The Fund for Humanity.
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​Basic Income as Common Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy Guy Standing

What is basic income? At its core, it would be a modest regular payment to each individual to help them feel more secure and able to purchase necessities for living. There is nothing in the concept itself to say how much it should be and nothing to say it should be paid instead of any other policy or that it should be financed by a steep rise in income tax, although obviously the funds would have to come from somewhere.1 Of course, at some stage an advocate has to say how much should be paid, why it is desirable and even necessary, what are the answers to commonly-stated objections, and how it could be afforded. Answering these points is one objective of this report and the background research that preceded it.

There are many reasons for wanting a basic income system, some uniquely modern, some that stem from way back in our history, first enunciated in The Charter of the Forest of 1217, one of the two foundational documents of the British Constitution, the other being the Magna Carta, sealed on the same day. The Charter asserted that everybody had a right of subsistence, realisable in and through the commons. This is a human or citizenship right, not something dependent on specific behaviour or some indicator of merit-worthiness.

The primary justifications for a basic income are ethical or moral, not instrumental. It is first and foremost a matter of social justice. The wealth and income of all of us are far more due to the efforts and achievements of the many generations who came before us than to what we do ourselves, and if we accept the practice of private inheritance, as all governments have done, giving a lot of ‘something for nothing’ to a minority, then we should honour the principle of social inheritance.

A Report for the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. By Guy Standing.
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Basic Income Scotland

A SUCCESSFUL joint bid to the Scottish Government for £250,000 will help fund the work to design local pilots of basic income in four councils across Scotland.

Fife, North Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh and and Glasgow City Councils are working together with NHS Health Scotland and the Improvement Service to explore the feasibility of pilots in their areas with the aims of reducing poverty and inequality and a possible route to a fairer and simpler welfare system.

Basic income pilots are already running successfully in countries including the Netherlands and Canada. Although there are many different models, the aim is to promote fairness and provide people with a basic income they can use whether they want to earn, learn, care, or set up a business.

Now, with funding in place work to explore the feasibility of a basic income in Scotland can be taken forward.

Creating a Fairer Scotland
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Basic Income as Common Dividends

In his new report “Basic Income as Common Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy”, Dr Standing deals comprehensively with common objections to basic income but importantly moves the debate on to the question of pilot schemes, how to design them and where they should be carried out.

An effective pilot has the ability to demonstrate the strengths or shortcomings of a basic income scheme. Pilots have been tried in many countries, most recently in Finland and the Netherlands. Now, Dr Standing argues, it is the UK’s turn.

Guy Standing and John McDonnell MP will be joined at the RSA launch by Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary; Ed Miliband MP, former Labour leader and Caroline Abrahams, Director, Age UK. The research and production of the report has been supported by the Progressive Economy Forum (PEF).

In a new report presented to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dr Guy Standing sets out how Basic Income could become a UK reality.

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Universal Basic Income: Brexit-Voting Sheffield May Be England's First Test

Campaign group UBI Lab Sheffield last week sent a letter to all 84 of the northern English city’s councilors, asking them to put their support behind a local pilot program.

“We only wrote to the councilors on Friday, but we’ve had a couple of encouraging responses already,” says Sam Gregory, a member of the campaign. “The councilors that have written back are interested in what we’re doing and keen to find out more about our proposal.”

As the United Kingdom prepares to withdraw from the European Union, currently scheduled for May 22 if an exit deal is approved by British Parliament, or April 12 if not, UBI may represent an idea that could benefit those those who voted “Leave,” as they felt “left behind” by who they viewed as an elite, political class. The feeling among many pro-Brexit Britons is a “general sense of insecurity, pessimism and marginalisation,” write Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath, in this illuminating paper for the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The northern England city could be a key test area.universal basic income.