Calls made for government to trial universal basic income in Portsmouth

CALLS have been made to trial a state payment scheme in Portsmouth that would mean everyone - including those in employment - was entitled to a basic allowance from government.

By Fiona Callingham
Thursday, 12th November 2020, 11:17 am

Councillors will write to Westminster asking politicians to consider piloting universal basic income (UBI) in the city. Under the system those in work pay a certain percentage of earnings to fund the allowance for everyone – unlike benefits that are means tested.

A debate on UBI was brought to this week's virtual full council meeting where proposer Councillor Matt Winnington cited the impact of being on the ‘front line’ of Brexit as well as the Covid-19 pandemic as reasons for concern.

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Universal basic income is an allowance paid by the state to all citizens

Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs explained that the future of employment across the UK could change. He said: 'It is predicted that by 2030 73 per cent of office jobs and 38 per cent of office-based jobs will be lost.

'There's a real serious question of is the age of work coming to an end - it might be. We certainly have some thinking to do about how to manage that. In the long term a UBI maybe something that happens.'

Lib Dem Cllr Hugh Mason agreed. 'We now have an employment pattern where people spend a considerable amount of their life changing from one job to another and spending periods where they're not working,' he said.

'As Cllr Stubbs said with increasing automation and AI this can only become more extreme.

'This is something that has legs. It can work. It is worth investigating, it is certainly worth trying because we will have to try something in the next 20 or 30 years.'

However, Cllr Matt Atkins, from the Tory party, believed more information about the scheme was needed - including what it would mean for the current benefits system.

He said: 'I understand some of the arguments for UBI.

'But it's an idea that has no flesh. There is no detail on how much would be paid to people, who would be eligible - it's implied it's for everyone but that's not always the case. There's no comment on how it would be funded or if it replaces other benefits.'

Councillors voted to ask government to consider a pilot scheme.

Other countries that have previously trialled UBI include Finland, Canada and the Netherlands.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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