Backlash over ‘dreadful’ plans to hand people £1,600 a month for doing nothing

Universal basic income removes 'incentive' says analyst

Plans for England’s first-ever trial of universal basic income have sparked a backlash.

Think tank Autonomy is seeking financial backing for a two-year pilot programme which would see 30 people paid £1,600 a month with no strings attached while they are monitored by researchers.

Jarrow, in Tyne and Wear, and East Finchley, in north London, have been selected for the scheme.

But Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, chairman of the Blue Collar Conservatism group which champions working people, branded it an “absolutely dreadful idea”.

Mr Clarke-Smith said: “They’ll be surprised to hear there’s a system already in place regarding income, which is widely referred to as ‘employment’.

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“Who pays? An absolutely dreadful idea and I think the people behind this initiative will struggle to raise the funds necessary.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance also warned of the cost if such a scheme was ever introduced nationwide.

Tom Ryan, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers would take a dim view of a universal basic income.

“Implementing this nationally would be extremely costly, compounding hardship for Brits already grappling with a 70-year high tax burden. Politicians should resist efforts to introduce benefits for all.”

But Green MP Caroline Lucas insisted the Government can “no longer ignore” universal basic income proposals.

She said: “So exciting to see plans for England’s first ever basic income pilot.

“We need big, bold ideas to provide security and dignity for all – to tackle poverty, help job security, improve wellbeing and transform society. Government can no longer ignore it.”

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said universal basic income “could be transformative for welfare in this country”.

He said: “All the evidence shows that it would directly alleviate poverty and boost millions of people’s wellbeing: the potential benefits are just too large to ignore.

“With the decades ahead set to be full of economic shocks due to climate change and new forms of automation, basic income is going to be a crucial part of securing livelihoods in the future.”

Calls for universal basic income grew during the Covid pandemic.

The Welsh Labour government launched a £20 million trial offering £1,600 a month for two years to young people leaving care in 2022.

Meanwhile, Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, last year said universal basic income was an idea “whose time has come”.

He said: “A universal basic income will put a solid foundation beneath everybody so that they can have a life with security and stop worrying about everything.”

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