‘Incredibly significant’: First Minister commits to basic income pilot in Wales
The First Minister’s decision to commit to a basic income pilot scheme in Wales has been described as “incredibly significant” by the Future Generations Commissioner.
Mark Drakeford revealed today that the new minister for social justice, Jane Hutt, will be asked to work on the pilot scheme.
Under the UBI system – which has already been successfully trialled in other countries – citizens are handed a sum of money from the state to cover the basic cost of living. Its backers hope it will alleviate poverty by ensuring that everyone has a basic standard of living to fall back on.
A poll by Survation in March found that 69% of people in Wales would support the Welsh Government piloting a basic income scheme.
In an interview with Greatest Hits Radio, asked if he would press ahead with a pilot, Mark Drakeford said that he would.
The pilot design will be part @JaneHutt’s brief.
— UBI Lab Cymru 🏴 UBI Lab Wales (@UBILabWales) May 14, 2021
“A basic income pilot is one of the specific responsibilities of our new social justice minister,” he said. “It will have to be carefully designed, it will draw on the experience of attempted pilots in Scotland, but I have a very longstanding interest in basic income. I hope we will be able to mount an experiment here that will test whether the claims that are made for a basic income approach are actually delivered.
“We’ll do it on a cross-party basis. There are 25 members of the Senedd in different parties who have expressed an interest in it. I want to do it on that broad basis and design the best possible pilot.”
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, later described it as an “incredibly significant” development.
“The Well-being of Future Generations Act puts an obligation on Wales to use long-term, joined-up thinking to keep people well, with progressive solutions,” she said.
“As the person responsible for setting out future-focused policies to Welsh Government, I’m delighted that the First Minister is listening to the issues I’ve been raising about needing new ways to tackle poverty, the need to mitigate the worst effects of the increasingly precarious nature of work and the benefits to overall well-being that a basic income could bring.
“Signaling 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.
“I have an exciting report coming out this year that will provide further analysis of how a form of basic income could improve the lives of people in Wales for generations to come.
“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.
“Hopefully this is the start of even more progressive policy announcements to come from Mark Drakeford’s government.”