£50m Welsh Universal Basic Income pilot would ‘reward the wealthiest in society’ say Conservatives
The Welsh Conservatives have said that they will oppose a £50m Universal Basic Income pilot in Wales, saying that the scheme would “reward the wealthiest in society”.
The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced that he intended to pilot UBI last month. Today, independent think tank Autonomy suggested a £50m pilot scheme that would see 5,000 people taking part over two years.
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Finance, Peter Fox, however said he had “serious concerns” about Autonomy’s plan. He took aim at the ‘universal’ element of UBI, which is to give every person a fixed amount of money every month.
Peter Fox said that it would waste taxpayers money on those who didn’t need it.
“Means-testing and fairness is of fundamental importance to the integrity of our welfare state, unlike UBI, which would reward the wealthiest in society instead of targeting those who need it most,” he said.
“I implore the Welsh Government to focus on the real problems facing large swathes of the public and that is to focus on creating more jobs and levelling up the whole of Wales.”
Autonomy’s plan would see two parallel pilots organised at the same time, in one urban and one rural area, with 2,500 people taking part in each location.
Under the plan, children up to 17 would receive £120.48 a week, adults up to 65 £213.59 and those beyond £195.90.
Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “All the evidence suggests that a guaranteed basic income would directly alleviate poverty in Wales and this plan sets out a sensible approach for the Welsh Government to follow in planning and devising a pilot.
“A well-designed pilot for Wales must be inclusive and broad enough in its scope to be able to capture evidence from across both rural and urban communities.
“However, there is a major elephant in the room which is whether the UK Government will cooperate or not to allow a pilot to go ahead.”