Calls for basic income trial in Birmingham
Campaigners are calling for Birmingham to follow other cities in backing trials for Universal Basic Income payments of up to £150 per week for everyone.
UBI Lab Birmingham has started a petition urging the city council to join councils in Sheffield and Liverpool in backing the idea of a basic income trial.
The group also asks that the council writes to central Government in support of the scheme.
The 22 campaigners said the trial would involve a weekly allowance of £50 to £150 for all adults and £30 to £80 per week for every child.
The pilot scheme proposed in Sheffield involved 4,000 people, and Birmingham campaigners suggested a similar number could be involved here.
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The campaigners suggest UBI payments would be made on top of existing benefits.
UBI has been trialled or proposed in several other parts of the world including Finland and three cities in Canada, along with India, Utrecht in the Netherlands and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Four local authorities in Scotland – Fife Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Glasgow City Council and North Ayrshire Council – are also exploring the idea of piloting a basic income.
The Labour Party supported the idea of UBI trials across the UK at the last election, while the Green Party promised UBI for every resident by 2025 in its manifesto.
The UBI Lab Network is also calling for a “recovery” UBI to aid the public following the end of the coronavirus lockdown.
The idea consists of a £1,000 per month payment for each adult and £500 per month for each child in the two months following the end of the lockdown.
It has been suggested the funding for UBI in the UK could come from closing the tax loopholes which benefits corporations and creating a more progressive tax system.
Critics of the idea have said there is no evidence it leads to reduced poverty or inequality.
Ronan Nagle-Weaver, who started the petition on Change.org, said the calls for UBI were topical in light of the huge financial impact coronavirus has had on the public.
The 21-year-old, a psychology student at the University of Birmingham, said: “The idea is it’s universal. Everybody gets it regardless of their situation. Some people will not need it but most of that will be recouped through the tax system.
“It’s a simple solution to make sure absolutely nobody falls through the cracks. Through history this has been supported both by the left and the right.
“The Covid-19 situation has accelerated the need for it. It has exposed the inequalities in our welfare system.”
A total of 119 people have so far signed the petition which has a target of 200.
The council leadership has been contacted for comment.
To see the petition visit change.org/p/birmingham-city-council-a-basic-income-trial-for-birmingham
By Local Democracy Reporter Mark Cardwell
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