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100 candidates in Welsh elections back Universal Basic Income pilots

ONE HUNDRED candidates from five parties have now signed a pledge promising to support pilots of Universal Basic Income in Wales ahead of the Senedd elections in May.

Signatories include:
Labour’s Dawn Bowden and Mick Antoniw
former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood
leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds
leader of the Wales Green Party Anthony Slaughter and deputy leader Lauren James
deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales Amelia Womack

The pledge has been launched by UBI Lab Wales, a citizen-led group exploring the potential for Universal Basic Income in the country.

After a successful campaign by UBI Lab Wales and Jack Sargeant MS, the Senedd passed a motion backing a UBI pilot in Wales in September 2020.

Councils in Cardiff, Swansea, Gwynedd and Rhondda Cynon Taf have since asked to take a leading role, with more expected to follow.

Sophie Howe, the Welsh Government’s Future Generations Commissioner, recently launched a major study into a UBI pilot, saying that an “unconditional, regular payment could prevent further mass unemployment and poverty caused by the pandemic.”

By signing the pledge, candidates commit to:
Support calls to pilot Universal Basic Income in Wales
Lobby Westminster for the devolved powers needed to pilot Universal Basic Income
Work with other Senedd members to call for a new economic settlement, which includes trialling a Universal Basic Income

Over the coming weeks, UBI Lab Wales will contact every candidate in every seat and ask them to add their name.

In October 2020, First Minister Mark Drakeford told a Labour meeting that he “personally is in favour of piloting” a Basic Income in Wales in response to a question of UBI Lab Wales.

In 2017, Drakeford said a UBI could be an “attractive” way to tackle poverty and inequality.

In March 2020, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price called on the Welsh Government to introduce a UBI, calling it “the quickest, simplest, and surest way of providing much needed certainty for the self-employed, freelancers and those on zero hours contracts.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds is a strong supporter of UBI, writing that it would “empower people to dream big and reach their full potential.”

In May 2020, Wales Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter called on Drakeford to pilot UBI in Wales, adding “we need a better system fit to support and give security to all.”

After the election, UBI Lab Wales, which is part of the global UBI Lab Network, will use the pledge to put pressure on the Welsh Government to pilot Universal Basic Income.

What is UBI?

UBI is a regular and unconditional payment given to everybody regardless of their income, wealth or employment status. Proposals range from £50 per week for every adult to over £100 per week for every adult and child.

Supporters believe that a UBI would guarantee everyone the right to basic financial security by providing a regular income boost for millions in Britain.

They also believe that it would give people more freedom to pursue education and training later in life, start a business, or take time out to care for a loved one without facing financial penalties.

A UBI trial in Finland showed improved mental health for participants. It also found that the recipients of a UBI spent more days in employment on average compared to the control group, debunking the myth that a UBI would discourage work.

A modest UBI scheme already exists in Alaska, where all citizens receive an annual dividend of around $2,000 a year from the state’s oil profits.

At Easter 2020 Pope Francis wrote: “This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.” He continued: “It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”

All UBI proposals keep Housing Benefit and disability benefits. Many UBI proposals replace Child Benefit with a more generous UBI for children.

Most UBI proposals replace some means-tested benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance and tax credits. All serious UBI proposals would make lower and middle income households better off.

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