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.