Universal Basic Income takes Wales closer to being a ‘communist state’, Tory MS claims
A Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme would take Wales a step closer to being a “communist state”, a Tory MS has claimed.
Janet Finch-Saunders, the Conservative Senedd member for Aberconwy, suggested that providing every adult with a fixed income every month that would be enough to pay for all basic essentials is “unjustifiable”.
Finch-Saunders made the comments in the Senedd, while questioning Finance Minister Rebecca Evans, in response to an announcement from the Welsh Government that it intends to pilot a scheme.
Evans responded that the move is about “alleviating poverty” and “having a positive” on people’s “mental health” and “well-being”.
The Tory MS said: “On 19 May 2021, the First Minister admitted himself to the Senedd that: ‘We don’t have all the powers that would be necessary, let alone all of the funding that would be necessary to include a universal basic income for the whole of Wales’.
“So, pardon my astonishment, then, that the Welsh Government so soon into this new Senedd has already started to spend resources on a non-devolved area of policy.
“Now, whilst the First Minister may think that he has the ability to design an experiment that will allow you to test the claims that are made for UBI, every single penny that is invested and minute of time spent by officials on this pursuit of a socialist utopia is simply quite unjustifiable.
“In fact, Wales would be a step closer to being a communist state should your concept of giving every person a fixed amount of money every month become a reality.
“So, will you as Minister state how much resources have you agreed to allow to be allocated to fund work related to UBI this financial year?”
Rebecca Evans said: “Well, of course, universal basic income is about alleviating poverty, and that is absolutely the interest of the Welsh Government.
“It’s also about giving people more control over their lives and having a positive impact on their mental health and their well-being – all things that we would want to achieve here in Wales.
“We’ve followed pilots across the world very closely and with interest, and we think that there is the opportunity to test a version here.90
“Of course, we are not testing a version for the entire population.
“We’re thinking about a cohort of people, potentially care leavers, who I think are some of the most vulnerable people and the people who are most deserving of us supporting them, and finding creative ways and innovative ways to support those individuals.
“So, we’re looking closely at models that have been drawn up elsewhere; we’re looking at the experience of Scotland and other countries across the world.
“But all of this work is being undertaken in the portfolio of the Minister for Social Justice, and she’ll be managing this particular piece of work within her main expenditure group.”
Speaking after the debate, Janet Finch-Saunders said: “Like many constituents who have contact me over recent weeks, I am astonished that the Welsh Government has, so soon into the Sixth Senedd, already started to waste resources on non-devolved areas of policy.
“At this point in our recovery, the money proposed to be spent on this experiment is unjustifiable.
“In fact, recent research into UBI has questioned how effective it is at tackling present inequalities.
“For example, a recent trial in Finland found that it did not lead to more people finding work, whilst research by the Centre for Social Justice has found that this initiative would not meet the needs of people on low-incomes.
“Means-testing is of fundamental importance to the integrity of our welfare state, unlike UBI, which would incidentally reward the wealthiest in society instead of targeting those who need it most.
“The Welsh Government must focus on the problems facing large swathes of the public by creating more jobs and levelling-up the whole of Wales.”