Universal Basic Income ‘a fantasy’ claims Tory as report says it would halve poverty in Wales
A Welsh Conservative Senedd Member has claimed that Universal Basic Income is a “fantasy” after a report said that it would halve poverty in Wales.
The study by Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, said that UBI would decrease overall poverty rates in Wales by 50% and child poverty would decrease by 64%.
But the Welsh Conservatives said that the idea amounted to “some of the richest in society receive taxpayers hard-earned money” and was “all in the name of ideological purity”.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government announced that it was intending to bring forward a UBI pilot in Wales.
Sophie Howe’s report found that a trial in Wales of 2,500 people could cost around £50m, with adults being paid from £60 per week.
It also found that almost three quarters of people in Wales, 69%, supported piloting UBI.
But Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Partnership, Joel James MS said that it was a “fantasy idea” and “touted by a Welsh Government sponsored body”.
He added that it had “repeatedly been abandoned in other countries but pursued by hardened left-wing professors and academics who have no idea how to generate a thriving and prosperous economy”.
“Ultimately, what Wales desperately needs is an ambitious plan to level-up opportunity and deliver economic prosperity across the country, not a blank cheque that buys nothing but popularity with the far-left,” he said.
Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe said UBI could form part of a preventative-based National Wellness System, addressing income security – one of the social determinants of health – taking pressure off the health service and removing the barriers to long-term good health.
“The introduction of a universal basic income could completely transform society by delivering a more equal, prosperous Wales,” she said.
“Piloting a UBI trial here in Wales gives us a chance to increase the prosperity of every single person, giving more people a life jacket when they need to keep their head above the water – which has the potential to create a healthier, more equal population.”
“The Well-being of Future Generations Act puts a duty on Welsh Government to take bold decisions to change systems that aren’t working and to prevent crises from worsening.
“The findings in this report should excite leaders who say they want a true green and just recovery that makes life fairer for everyone.”
The feasibility study, run by think tank Autonomy, found that UBI would bring child poverty to a rate of under 10% in Wales. It is currently at 28% – the worst in the UK.
Will Stronge, co-director of Autonomy, said: “There is a strong appetite amongst the Welsh public for trying out basic income and this comprehensive study sets out the roadmap for getting there.
“The COVID-19 pandemic necessitates radical and bold changes to support people through future economic shocks. As the economy and labour market struggles to find its feet, it’s clear that guaranteeing an income floor for all is the most progressive way of securing livelihoods.”
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