Wales is launching the UK’s first universal basic income (UBI) pilot scheme, first minister Mark Drakeford has announced.
The policy will “see whether the promises that basic income hold out are genuinely delivered” for people, said Drakeford, confirming recipients will get a monthly stipend from the Welsh government.
Jane Hutt, the newly appointed social justice minister is being tasked to lead the pilot UBI scheme which is designed to reduce poverty, reduce stress and increase happiness while providing people with time to adapt and reskill to changing economies.
Supporters of UBIs argue the schemes help energise people and benefit their mental health by boosting creativity and engagement. They “could provide financial security for all, building more resilient economies and giving everyone the resources they need to thrive.”
‘The current system isn’t working’ says future generations commissioner
Sophie Howe, the future generations commissioner for Wales is “delighted” to see the pilot launched and said the case for UBI has been “strengthened immeasurable” by the Covid crisis.
Howe said: “Signalling basic income as a priority for the new government is an incredibly significant commitment by the first minister to tackling Wales’ poverty and health inequalities – which cause lasting damage to the health and prospects of individuals, families and communities.
“It’s a huge moment for the campaign, which I’ve been proud to be a part of and the growing support for a fairer way of allowing people to meet their basic needs.
“The current system isn’t working – Wales’ commitment to exploring a basic income once again proves it’s often the small countries that can be world-leading and make the biggest changes.”
Conservatives oppose UBIs
The Conservative party is opposed to UBIs and argue that “Wales should not become a petri dish for failed left-wing policies”, which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation claims “can actually increase poverty”, the BBC reports, while reminding SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk supports UBI.
A pilot UBI for Wales was part of the Welsh Labour party’s manifesto for the May 6 Welsh Senedd elections. The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru also promised to introduce UBI schemes in their manifestos and in all, 25 candidates who signed up to the international UBI Lab Network’s pledge to pressure governments and councils to launch UBI schemes were elected to the Senned.
In Scotland, 29 of the newly elected MSPs signed-up to the “worldwide network of citizens, researchers and activists exploring the potential” of UBIs – “a regular and unconditional payment given to everyone regardless of their income, wealth or work.”
“UBI not only reduces inequalities and increases wellbeing, but it strengthens local economies” stated the Welsh Liberal Democrats, while Plaid Cymru’s manifesto pledge said UBIs will enable Wales “to prepare for a future where work may have a different role in the economy as a result of automation and the application of AI and related technologies”.