Wales is planning to trial a universal basic income scheme, whereby every citizen receives regular sums of money to cover basic living costs regardless of whether they have a job and how much they earn.
Universal basic income
In a radio interview last week, First Minister Mark Drakeford revealed that a pilot would go ahead. However, a spokesperson for the Welsh government has admitted that it would need support from the UK government as the welfare system is not devolved.
Supporters of the universal basic income (UBI) concept suggest that it would allow more people time to retrain in response to changing employer needs, and reduce poverty.
It would also give people an income if they had to stop working due to redundancy, sickness or caring responsibilities.
In an interview with Greatest Hits Radio, Drakeford said: “A basic income pilot is one of the specific responsibilities of our new social justice minister. It will have to be carefully designed, it will draw on the experience of attempted pilots in Scotland, but I have a very longstanding interest in basic income. I hope we will be able to mount an experiment here that will test whether the claims that are made for a basic income approach are actually delivered.
“We’ll do it on a cross-party basis. There are 25 members of the Senedd in different parties who have expressed an interest in it. I want to do it on that broad basis and design the best possible pilot.”
Jonathan Rhys Williams of UBI Lab Wales, a group of researchers and campaigners advocating for a universal basic income, said: “This is a huge moment for the basic income movement in the UK and around the world. To see the first minister firmly commit to a trial is incredibly satisfying.
“This is a big step towards creating our generation’s NHS, and we look forward to learning more from Jane Hutt and her team. We hope the trial will include a number of different cohorts of people, such as employed people, unemployed people and children, and that it focuses on areas most in need of a basic income.”
In Scotland, four Local Authorities (City of Edinburgh Council, Fife Council, Glasgow City Council and North Ayrshire Council) and Public Health Scotland had been exploring the feasibility of a UBI pilot in Scotland. Last year they concluded that a pilot was not currently possible as substantive and complex legislative, technical and delivery changes were needed.