Universal Basic Income implementation ‘far easier’ if welfare devolved says Senedd report
A meaningful trial of Universal Basic Income in Wales will need the cooperation of the UK Government, as welfare is not devolved, a Senedd report has said.
The report by the Senedd’s Petitions Committee looking at the Welsh Government’s proposed Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot for care leavers has concluded that more benefits would be derived from a broader trial.
The report, titled ‘A UBI Pilot for Wales’, concludes that a wider pilot scheme has the potential to produce even richer, more persuasive evidence than what would be gleaned from the current proposals.
But the report notes that UBI would be much easier if welfare was devolved and without those powers a meaningful trial in Wales will require the UK Government to be onboard.
“Any attempt to expand the pilot – as suggested in the petition being considered – would require the cooperation of UK Government in the form of Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC),” the report says.
It adds: “In the long term, the implementation of a UBI in Wales would be far easier if the administration of welfare were devolved.”
Universal Basic Income is the idea that a government should pay all individuals a set salary – regardless of their means.
The report was produced by the Committee in response to a petition submitted in August 2021 which called for an expansion of the UBI pilot and gained over a thousand signatures.
Last year, following the Senedd election, the Welsh Government indicated its desire to pilot UBI in Wales with that scheme targeting care leavers by giving them an additional sum of money each month.
The Committee concluded that the Welsh Government’s stated plan to trial the idea with 250 care leavers “has merit – improving outcomes for care leavers is an idea that has support across all Members”.
However, applying a basic income to a broader group would allow policymakers to learn more about the impact of a UBI which proponents believe should apply to all citizens.
The report notes that the proposed sample size of 250 people is small and suggests the Welsh Government expand this group to ensure more robust results and a greater diversity among recipients.
It also suggests that:
- Payments must be guaranteed, unconditional, and paid to the individual (not the household).
- The Welsh Government should make every effort to persuade UK Government departments to support the widest possible pilot scheme.
- The evaluation of the pilot should be conducted by independent experts, with experience of working with care leavers and/or young people from similar backgrounds.
- There would also be merit in including an option in the evaluation contract for longer term follow-up of what happens to participants in the longer term.
- Consider all seven ‘Wellbeing Goals’ – specifically including mental health in the ‘A Healthier Wales’ goal.
Jack Sargeant MS, the Chair of the Petitions Committee who led the first ever Senedd debate on a UBI pilot in Wales, said: “It’s clear from the evidence presented to us that broadening the pilot could have huge benefits.
“The Welsh Government should investigate increasing the number of proposed recipients and include care leavers from as diverse as possible a range of backgrounds, locations, and circumstances to give us the evidence we need to properly evaluate this scheme.
“While not all Members of the Committee support UBI, we all believe that a wider pilot scheme has the potential to produce richer, more persuasive evidence for the Welsh Government to consider.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the petitioners whose passion for tackling poverty shone through and should be commended, as well as all those who signed the petition.”
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