General election 2019: Labour pledges to pilot Universal Basic Income


A Labour government may pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme, possibly to replace the current benefit system, it has been claimed.

In an interview with The Independent, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he intended to include a pilot UBI scheme in Labour’s manifesto – adding that the it would be even more radical than the document that turned around the party’s fortunes in the 2017 election.

Mr McDonnell, a long-term supporter of UBI, said he was looking at including “at least one pilot” in Labour’s blueprint for government:

The concept generally involves overhauling the welfare state by scrapping means-tested benefits and replacing them with weekly or monthly payments to all citizens.

Pressed on whether it was going to be in Labour’s new manifesto [Mr McDonnell] replied: “… Sheffield have really made a big pitch for the UBI, a pilot, but there are a few other places as well. They are the ones really that are willing to look at how they can tackle poverty.”

A report presented to Mr McDonnell earlier this year by Professor Guy Standing, an economic adviser to the shadow Treasury team, highlighted various models a government could use in a pilot scheme of basic income. One included providing every adult in a selected community with £100, and a further £50 for each child per week. Additional benefits would be put in place for those with disabilities.

This could restore hope to the UK’s millions of benefit claimants.

Universal Credit has been nothing but an expensive disaster from the moment Iain Duncan Smith announced it, plunging people who have been forced to claim the new benefit into debt and despair.

Meanwhile, Tory policies on the administration of legacy benefits including – and especially – disability benefits like Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment have been deemed to have caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.

We don’t know how many people have died while trying to claim benefits under the Tory system because the Tories have refused to provide honest answers to our questions.

UBI would change all that.

Instead of being forced to go through the humiliation of a prejudicial benefit assessment system, people would automatically receive a payment to support their living costs.

Those with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities would get appropriate supplements.

And that’s it. No fuss, no humiliation, and hopefully no more despair, destitution and death.

The Conservative Party, which thrives on causing misery, will hate it.

But anybody who has had to endure the current system would be well-advised to vote Labour and bring it in.

Source: General election: McDonnell vows to present Labour’s most ‘radical’ manifesto with universal basic income pilot | The Independent

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  1. trev November 11, 2019 at 8:55 am - Reply

    I think it’s a good idea. An Unconditional Basic Income would provide people with the freedom and flexibility they need to do part time or temporary work, without being penalized.

    It would go a long way towards alleviating poverty, there are many (particularly young people) who have found it impossible to comply with current Benefit rules and have fallen foul of the punitive Sanctions regime and ended up on the streets. There are of course those who are homeless because of substance abuse and addictions, but that’s a separate issue. I spoke to one young man who was living under a bridge on the edge of my local town centre, who told me that he had been Sanctioned for two years. Half a million young people are officially unaccounted for; not claiming Benefits, not in work, not in training or education.

    Then there are people like myself, getting too old to work full time, unable to find suitable employment, but trapped in the Benefits system and forced to jump through endless hoops to receive 70 quid a week JSA, sent on one training course after another and made to do endless jobsearch for the sake of it just to avoid Sanctions, when in reality there is little chance of gaining full time employment, jobs I would be capable of getting, capable of travelling to, and capable of doing due to lack of skills and transport, and failing health and advancing years.

  2. MARK BEVIS November 11, 2019 at 9:02 am - Reply

    UBI is one of the most important concepts needed as we go forward in a jobless and climate changing world.
    The Torys believe in work efficiency and productivity but they have no idea that the stress of continually filling in benefit forms (monthly online accounting for self-employed on UC?!) etc is mentally deleterious. I know that my productivity would go up if I wasn’t sub-consciously worrying about whether I can make the rent and poll tax payments at the end of each month.

    UBI cannot happen soon enough. Especially for rural areas, where we are going to have replace CAP subsidies after Brexit, and at the same time get more land converted to growing food, and at the same time increasing bio-doversity with rewilding. As a nation we are going to have to bite that bullet and realise we are going to have to pay food growers and land owners, or land stewards might be a better phrase, to manage the countryside in a much more nature friendly way, to reduce the rate of further extinctions. A UBI (more than £100/week though) would be a way to do that.

  3. Dan November 11, 2019 at 11:03 am - Reply

    We need a UBI NOW. Some people claim it would be unaffordable, but I don’t think it would be. When you think about it there are massive savings to be made. You could abolish all the job centres for a start – it’s not like they help anyone these days. Most types of fraud and error would disappear with such a simple system meaning that the snoopers and checkers could be done away with – remember that the simpler something is the better it works. Because everyone gets the same it could be safely assumed for tax purposes, thus those who don’t need it get it taken back via the tax system, which would remove the huge administrative cost of means testing benefits. And that’s only the start of why UBI is a good idea…

    There may be a small minority of individuals who would devote their lives to vice and idleness, but I think the numbers of people with so little ambition are too small to be worth worrying about. The chief failing of the current mess is that it automatically thinks the worst of people, and that is not the way to get the best out of anyone.

  4. timfrom November 11, 2019 at 11:12 am - Reply

    No more Jobcentre sadists! Abolish the DWP! Of course the Tories will hate it! What better reason do you need to try UBI? What’s not to like?

  5. Manish November 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Labour’s UBI proposal is shit and deserves nothing but absolute condemnation because clearly, John Mcdonnell hasn’t heard of such people as presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Scott Santens. This is completely unacceptable.

    I am in favour of the rightwing case for UBI (using it to undermine the existing welfare state and minimum wage) as UBI makes them REDUNDANT. There just isn’t any reason to have a minimum wage and conditional benefits like UC, Jobseeker’s Allowance, TANF or SNAP on top of a UBI since they are all general support. What is UBI? general support. The UBI can do the job of the existing welfare state and minimum wage much better since it requires much less admin work.

    UBI not big enough to cover cost of living? raise the UBI.

    Andrew Yang’s freedom dividend proposal is vastly superior to Labour’s UBI proposal and was prosposed much earlier so Labour’s proposal does deserve nothing but absolute condemmnation.

    Andrew Yang’s Freedom dividend: people can no long be coerced into work, entrepreneurship boosted, people are free to go back to school and leave abusive relationships. Labour’s proposal cannot do any of that because the payout is too small.

    PIP, as it is specialist support, can stay

  6. Brian Hanley November 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Let Hertfordshire be first for universal basic income, I’m 62 with heart disease and on jsa, the job centre have said when you go for an interview if they don’t ask about your heart problems don’t say anything

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