Call for Wrexham to become a Universal Basic Income Pilot Zone
Wales should consider paying everyone a basic income to study how they could improve the lives of future generations, the PM urged, as well as a call for Wrexham to be a pilot area.
UBI advocates including Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, UBI Lab Cymru, Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales and Chwarae Teg wrote to Mark Drakeford asking him to expand plans to test the benefits to support people with enough money for their basic needs.
A Universal Basic Income (RBI) is an unconditional payment whereby a government pays every individual a fixed salary, regardless of their means. Payments are made automatically, without procedures such as queuing and regular filling out of forms.
Earlier this year, following a Wales-wide move, Mr Drakeford announced he would pilot a Basic Income. The Welsh government later said it was interested in developing a small pilot project, potentially involving people leaving care.
Still, the signatories of the open letter say that while those discharging from care need more support, they fear that confining the pilot in this way will not provide the evidence needed to understand the impacts of a basic income for all.
Instead, they want the Welsh government to launch a massive ‘Care Leavers Plus’ pilot project, to include children, employees, the unemployed and retired, as well as people on leave.
In June, a new report from Public Health Wales said introducing a basic income could mean better health and well-being for everyone in Wales.
Sophie Howe, the Commissioner for Future Generations, said the leave ending in September as well as the end of the £ 20 per week universal credit supplement were still signs that current social protection and work systems are inadequate to the goal. She said: “It is time to accept that the system is broken and without a stronger safety net, generations to come will be left with a legacy of deprivation.
“UBI could protect not only those hard hit by Covid, but all of us against other shocks to come – like the climate emergency which will cause more devastation from extreme weather conditions like heat waves and flooding.
Lani Driver (pictured above) lives in Holt and works full time in a job she is not sure will exist in the future.
The 24-year-old, who discovered UBI while studying for a master’s degree in social policy at Cardiff University, currently commutes two hours a day for a trustee position at St Asaph.
Still, she says she would love to have the time to focus on building a business she is passionate about – when she’s done working everyday, she bakes brownies and cakes for the little bakery she’s got. runs from her parents’ kitchen: “I don’t particularly like my day job and after that there isn’t much time to do anything else,” said Lani, co-founder of UBILabWrexham.
“I would like to be able to develop the business. That’s what I like. But I have neither the means nor the time to do it. I know so many passionate people, but they are stressed out about money and can’t afford to do what they need to start a business. UBI would take a lot of that stress away.
“Society is changing. There are a lot of jobs in manufacturing here that are already changing – it’s easy to think of them as robots, but a lot of it is just software – for example my job in sales, I think that very soon software will – and my job will not exist. What will happen then?
Lani thinks the benefits of an UBI for the region could be huge: “I went to school in Rhyl and I knew a lot of people who were struggling. Much of the work here is very seasonal and people struggle for a steady income. Growing up this way has an impact, it stays with you even after you reach the point of having enough money as an adult.
“If you experienced this uncertainty growing up, the anxiety that you might find yourself in this situation stays with you.”
Lani’s parents lost their business in the 2008 financial crash and she has since considered how having a basic income would have made a difference: “I would love the government to pilot an UBI in the Country. Wales so that everyone in a city or region does this, regardless of their age and circumstances.
“I think we have to ask ourselves what kind of society we want. I know a lot of people with kids, for example, who work hourly when they prefer to spend time with their families – I would love to see more people able to do that.
Jonathan Williams, founder of UBI Lab Cymru, said: “It is of great importance that this pilot design is correct. If we are to truly understand what impact the policy might have on society, we have to include all the demographics. The results of a large pilot project could be a game-changer in terms of integrating people who are still unconvinced of the merits of a basic income for all.
“The Welsh government has taken a big step in the right direction by being courageous enough to announce that it will hold a trial. Now they have to make the case to the UK government that a substantial pilot project is what the Welsh public wants. “
You can follow @UBILabWrexham here on twitter, who advocate a basic income pilot in Wrexham.