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Why some Brits will be given free money as Universal Basic Income is trialled in UK

Joe Harker

Published 
| Last updated 

Why some Brits will be given free money as Universal Basic Income is trialled in UK

For the first time ever, a trial of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is being launched in England, while a pilot scheme is already underway in Wales.

Both trials will last for two years in total, and for that period of time, the people involved are getting £1,600 each and every month with no strings attached.

The payments are intended to provide a reasonably safe and secure financial floor to people so, no matter what happens, they always have some money coming in to cover the basics.

It's not means tested, however, so in theory everyone would get the payments regardless of financial situation.

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The payments go to individuals rather than households, with the income getting paid into people's bank accounts as actual money they can spend on anything, rather than vouchers.

The English scheme will give UBI to 30 people in the town of Jarrow and the North London area of East Finchley. In Wales, over 500 people leaving the care system are receiving the payments as part of the support for transition into adult life.

Researchers are following the participants to measure how the money is affecting their lives, and the English test will also follow a control group of people who won't receive the money to see what changes occur.

People need to be able to afford the essentials, Universal Basic Income aims to guarantee that happens. Credit: Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo
People need to be able to afford the essentials, Universal Basic Income aims to guarantee that happens. Credit: Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo
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While the Welsh scheme is being run by the Welsh government and was launched by first minister, Mark Drakeford, the English trial of Universal Basic Income is being done by think tank, Autonomy.

At this point, you might be wondering why a bunch of people would be getting money for nothing and how this could be the future of people's lives? So, let's get to explaining.

Supporters of UBI reckon it'll be a massive boost in getting people out of poverty and a major boom to the economy as well.

The simple fact of the matter is that people need to be able to afford stuff, and if everyone has money to afford the basics (hence the name), it's a strong foundation to live on.

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UBI would replace the benefits system, so rather than people having to prove they're poor or in a certain situation to access money, which they might have to wait weeks for, they'll be getting consistent payments each and every month.

People who need money from benefits will get it from UBI instead, without the added stress of having to jump through the hoops of a nation's benefits system, while everyone else gets a financial boost too.

People in the schemes will receive £1,600 a month for two years as UBI aims to simplify benefits and eradicate poverty. Credit: Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo
People in the schemes will receive £1,600 a month for two years as UBI aims to simplify benefits and eradicate poverty. Credit: Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo

On top of that, we're heading into an uncertain future as far as employment is concerned, as automation and AI threaten to take people's jobs or significantly reduce the amount of work people are required to do.

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Advocates for UBI believe that if everyone has a baseline income, which means their ability to afford to live isn't dependent upon staying in work, then people losing their jobs because of automation or AI won't be so punishing for the economy.

Another reason to add to the pile is that even people in full-time work are feeling the financial squeeze, so the extra income will help pretty much everyone, and being able to afford things beyond basic subsistence has a stupendous benefit to a person's wellbeing.

In theory, it's good for people because they'll be much more financially secure and well off, while it could boost the economy as people with money to spend will probably do so.

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So that's why there are trials of UBI taking place as it could be the key to a simpler welfare system, tackling the root causes of poverty and unlocking a healthier, happier future for us all.

Also because if we all lose our jobs to robots we'll still need to afford stuff whether there are enough jobs to provide incomes or not, so in theory, it guards against the worst outcomes and lifts everyone up.

Featured Image Credit: Steve Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, News, Money, Politics

Joe Harker
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