Lancaster City Council calls for Universal Basic Income pilot in the city

Councillors passed a motion in December proposing a pilot study funded by government with no cost to local council taxpayers.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 3:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 3:58 pm
Councillors passed a motion in December proposing a pilot study funded by government with no cost to local council taxpayers.

In December Green Coun Tim Dant, who represents Scotforth West, secured agreement by Lancaster City Council to call on the government to launch a pilot of Universal Basic Income in the city.

He said: “The Covid pandemic has shown how inadequate the current welfare system is.

"Too often, too many people fall between the cracks and are dependent on food banks, charity or help from friends.

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Coun Tim Dant.

"Too many people go hungry or cold in our country that has enormous wealth in the hands of a few.

"Universal Basic Income would help to tackle inequality and would ensure that everyone had enough to get by on.”

The motion passed by the City Council proposes a pilot study funded by government with no cost to local council taxpayers.

If adopted by government, Universal Basic Income would be part of the welfare system and should lead to replacing many current benefits.

The Lancaster City Council motion was supported by Green, Labour, Lib-Dem and Eco-Socialist Councillors.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a non-means tested payment to cover the cost of living that is paid by the state equally to all citizens.

Everyone would get the payment weekly or monthly, regardless of whether they were in work or not, married or single.

How UBI would be paid for, how it would be administered and the impact on local employment are issues that need more research and Lancaster, along with many other local authorities, is putting itself forward to participate in Government funded and supported pilot studies.

Coun Dant said that UBI has the potential to address key challenges such as inequality, poverty, precarious employment, loss of community, and climate change, by:

Giving employers a more flexible workforce whilst giving employees greater freedom to change their jobs;

Valuing unpaid work, such as caring for family members and voluntary work;

Removing the negative impacts, including detrimental health effects, of benefit sanctions and rules;

Giving people more equal resources within the family, workplace and society;

Breaking the link between work and consumption, thus helping reduce the strain on the environment;

Boosting community wealth building while enabling greater opportunities for people to work in community and cultural activities or to train or reskill in areas that will be needed to transition to a lower-carbon economy.

The motion means that Lancaster City Council will join the UBI Lab network of groups around the country in other local authorities who are keen to host trials of scheme.

Anyone who would like to join the UBI Lab to help organise and promote a UBI pilot in Lancaster, can get in touch with Coun Dant ([email protected]).

What is UBI?

UBI is a regular and unconditional payment given to everybody regardless of their income, wealth or employment status.

Proposals range from £50 per week for every adult to over £100 per week for every adult and child.

Supporters believe that a UBI would guarantee everyone the right to basic financial security by providing a regular income boost for millions in Britain.

They also believe that it would give people more freedom to pursue education and training later in life, start a business, or take time out to care for a loved one without facing financial penalties.

A UBI trial in Finland showed improved mental health for participants.

It also found that the recipients of a UBI spent more days in employment on average compared to the control group, debunking the myth that a UBI would discourage work.

A modest UBI scheme already exists in Alaska, where all citizens receive an annual dividend of around $2,000 a year from the state’s oil profits.

All UBI proposals keep Housing Benefit and disability benefits. Many UBI proposals replace Child Benefit with a more generous UBI for children.

Most UBI proposals replace some means-tested benefits like Jobseeker's Allowance and tax credits.

All serious UBI proposals would make lower and middle income households better off.