Tories slam ‘academic fantasies’ of Universal Basic Income trial
The Welsh Conservatives have condemned calls for a Universal Basic Income trial in Wales to be extended to everyone.
First Minister Mark Drakeford proposed a trial of UBI, which pays everyone a fixed sum, regardless of their circumstances, following Labour’s victory in the Senedd election in May.
But in an open letter to the government today, supporters of UBI, including the future generations commissioner, say the trial should be expanded to include everyone living in a test area and not be limited only to people leaving care as currently planned.
Describing the trial as ‘academic fantasies’ Shadow Minister for Finance Peter Fox said:
“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.
“The Welsh Labour Government would rather some of the richest in society receive taxpayers’ hard-earned money rather than those who need it the most, all in the name of ideological purity.
“Labour’s priority should be protecting jobs and rebuilding the Welsh economy, not trialling their academic fantasies.”
Several councils across Wales support the introduction of UBI, which would offer residents a non-means-tested fixed sum paid by the government to cover the basic cost of living, replacing the current benefits system.
However, critics of the proposals have also pointed out that support from the UK Government could be crucial to the success of the trial in Wales.
Lauren James, Deputy Leader of Wales Green Party and co-founder of UBI Lab Newport, said: “… it is clear that a major stumbling block with this trial is the powers of the Senedd. In Scotland, they found a trial was near impossible under their powers. More devolved powers are vital to ensuring the same does not happen here.
“UK Government must lend their full support to the trial, and equally the Senedd must push for the powers they need to ensure it is useful and accurate.”