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  • Writer's pictureMustardseed Trust

The first ever basic income in the UK - a hopeful step in the right direction

Integral to a care economy and caring for ourselves and each other is a universal basic income. A Basic Income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all, on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement. Mustardseed Trust sees this form of valuing human life as essential in the transition to a care economy. A basic income for every individual would mean that people have more time to invest: in caring for themsleves, each other or the Earth.

Co-Founder of the one of our partners - Basic Income Conversation, Cleo Goodman looks at the details of the Welsh basic income pilot. Our partner, Basic Income Conversation have played an important part in the consultation stages of this pilot.

The Programme for Government 2021–2026 made a commitment to pilot a basic income scheme in Wales.

"This commitment is an extension of the social wage and the model of progressive universalism that the Welsh Government has followed for over 20 years. In Wales, we look after each other and this scheme is an extension of the values of care and compassion that distinguish us as a country." - Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice

Who will participate in the pilot?

The pilot will be targeted at care leavers. All young people leaving care who turn 18 over a 12 month period, anywhere in Wales, will be invited to participate in the pilot. It’s expected that this will be about 500 people.

Any adult who spent time in care as a child (i.e. under the age of 18). This care would have been approved by the state through a court order or on a voluntary basis. It can range from as little as a few months to as long as ones whole childhood (18 years). Such care could be in foster care, residential care (mainly children’s homes) or other arrangements outside the immediate or extended family. T - The Care Leavers’ Association definition of a care leaver.

How long will the pilot last?

Participants will receive the payments for 24 months starting from the month after their 18th birthday. The pilot will run over 3 years, with a staggered start as each participant turns 18 and starts receiving their payments during the first year of the pilot.

How much will the basic income payments be?

£1600 will be paid as a basic income per month. This is reportedly the highest level of payment for a basic income pilot anywhere in the world. The UK government have confirmed that the basic income payments will be classed as income. This means they will be taxed and they will make participants ineligible for certain means tested benefits.

So after tax deductions and lost benefits the £1600 payment shrinks a bit. But still goes a long way towards covering basic costs which is the exact purpose of a basic income. The level of payment has been possibly set this high largely to overcome the challenges that the lack of cooperation with the UK government pose. Participants will keep all the income they earn from paid work, after tax, throughout the pilot.

Basic Income Conversatiion supports the introduction of this pilot, despite it being "targetted"and not "universal". A fully realised universal basic income would be deeply beneficial to society. However, the sooner we can guarantee people financial security through an improved system that resembles a basic income as closely as possible the better. Starting off by targeting basic incomes to people who would benefit from them the most, or by removing conditions from existing systems is a perfectly viable route to implementation.

We will follow the progress with great interest.

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