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

Mike Brown, The Inverse

Sheffield, a 500,000-strong city that narrowly voted in favor of Brexit three years ago, could be the first city in England to conduct a trial for universal basic income.

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 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 marginalization,” write Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath, in this illuminating paper for the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Britain is one of the most unequal countries in the world,” Gregory tells Inverse. “UBI could be one way to make our society a more equal place, and ensure that nobody is economically left out, and that nobody lives in poverty. That’s why we want to see the idea tested out here in Sheffield.”

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