Third council eyes rolling out universal basic income in pilot scheme

Banknotes from the Bank of England (CC0 Public Domain)

Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council could be the latest Welsh council to support piloting a universal basic income.

A motion will be debated at full council on Wednesday, December 16 asking councillors to give their support to RCT Council taking part in a pilot scheme.

Cardiff Council’s leader has written to the First Minister expressing their interest in participating in the scheme and Swansea has already supported a similar motion so RCT could be the third Welsh local authority to back the idea.

UBI Lab Network which is campaigning for a universal basic income has recently set up a branch in Rhondda Cynon Taf alongside its branch in Cardiff and its Wales wide branch.

Universal Basic Income would see everyone being paid a fixed sum by the Government to cover basic costs.

 

‘Reduce poverty’

The motion submitted by the Labour group said: “The effects of inequality and poverty on life chances are multi-faceted and well documented, with the impact of the global pandemic not only exposing the financial hardships that families across the country and beyond face, but also exacerbating the significant strain placed on our economy through mass job losses and the collapse of many businesses.

“The need to provide a safety net has never been more urgent, and it is little wonder to see calls continuing to grow for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme.

“It is clear that the current benefits scheme is broken, with millions suffering undue hardship through the inherent problems with the Universal Credit system, and the implementation of a universal benefit scheme would not only reduce poverty and inequality, but would also provide a more robust system of financial security to those families experiencing financial hardships.

“The work of the UBI Lab Network in developing proposals for test pilots has been instrumental in driving forward this agenda and, in October of this year, a majority of members of the Senedd from across a number of political parties supported a motion tabled by Jack Sargeant MS calling on the Welsh Government to implement a UBI trial in Wales and to lobby the UK Government for funding to extend this across Wales.

“During the debate, the Welsh Government’s finance minister and Trefnydd highlighted that rolling out a Universal Basic Income scheme set at the living wage across Wales could cost around £35bn a year – a sum that is twice the size of the Welsh Government’s budget. It is clear that any such future pilot would require significant financial support from the Westminster Government.

“As the implementation of a trial falls outside the scope of the statutory powers of the local authority, this council therefore resolves for the leader of the council to write to the First Minister to express this council’s interest in forming part of any pilot scheme introduced for Universal Basic Income.”

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