WHILE the UK remains under the grip of Tory governance, one of our four home nations offers a glimmer of hope.
Under progressive Labour Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, the country is set for a bold experiment in one of the most radical income policies to hit mainstream thought in recent years.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) gained a lot of traction during the candidacies for president of Benoît Hamon in France and Andrew Yang in the US respectively.
The idea? Give every citizen an unconditional payment every month to cover their costs of living. Whether you are in or out of work, whether your rent of own your home, whether your vote red or blue, you will be entitled to the money to cover your cost of living.
Several countries have launched limited trials of UBI, including Finland, where a 2017-18 trial among unemployed people found the recipients had a better sense of security – although the boost in employment was modest.
Much like Finland’s, Wales’ pilot scheme will be targeted at a certain demographic, this time care leavers – of whom 500 will be paid and unconditional £1,600 per month for two years.
While this does not make the scheme a pure run at UBI, it is certainly a promising step towards serious solutions to address poverty and income inequality.
UBI may not be the ultimate answer. But the fact that a progressive minded government is taking steps to think differently about approaching welfare is something for all to consider.
With a new wave of centre-left governments arriving in Western liberal democracies – from Norway to Germany and now Australia – a golden opportunity is arising to rethink our approach to work and wealth.
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