Skip to main content

Universal Basic Income

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2020

Whether he has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of introducing a universal basic income to support economic recovery following the covid-19 outbreak. (909584)

We have supported those on the lowest incomes throughout this crisis by investing more than £7 billion in the welfare system, and we are focused on helping people to get into work by making up to £30 billion available through our plans for jobs.

Councils throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have asked for support to run basic-income pilots, designed to increase our knowledge of the pros and cons of basic income. Five hundred and twenty elected politicians from across the UK sent a letter to the Chancellor on this subject and got a frankly derisory response. Does the Chancellor honestly believe that he knows everything there is to know about a basic income and would not learn from such pilots? If he does not, will he back the basic-income pilots and let us learn together and make evidence-based policy?

I am happy to learn from the 2017 Work and Pensions Committee report that said it was

“difficult to see how”—

a universal basic income—

“would substantially alleviate poverty”,

or from the OECD, which said that a universal basic income could “increase poverty” and negatively affect the poorest. If the hon. Gentleman is putting forward this proposal, he should set out what the specific amount is. I note that to date the SNP has refused to do that.