Mendip District Council back universal basic income trial

Councillors in Mendip have backed calls for the district be a pilot area for universal basic income (UBI), which would offer residents a non-means-tested fixed sum paid by the government to cover the basic cost of living.

This would be issued to all residents regardless of their financial status and whether they are employed or unemployed.

Councillors keen to see a pilot introduced believe it would tackle the impacts on employment prospects and household incomes post-Covid, as well as other factors, such as Brexit, future automation and artificial intelligence.

Commenting, Councillor Shane Collins who proposed the motion said: "In a time of Covid, Brexit, artificial intelligence, the gig economy and climate emergency, the amount of paid jobs are shrinking and with 5.8 million people on Universal Credit and often falling through the net, now is the time for a UBI trial in Mendip.

"UBI for all would simplify and replace benefits such as Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits and work alongside Housing Benefit and Carer’s Allowance, with additional UBI payments for groups of people who experience barriers to working, including disabled people, single parents and people of pension age.

"UBI would also offer basic financial security for all people at a time when it is needed more than ever."  

Leader of Medip District Council, Councillor Ros Wyke added: "Certainly our economy is fragile as we come out of Covid and the impact on people will be felt right across the board.

"I do believe our society is changing and given its history of social innovation, wealth of expertise and active networks across community, business and public services, Mendip is ideally placed to pilot a UBI."

Mendip District Council's Chief Executive, Stuart Brown and Cllr Wyke, along with other party leaders will now draft a joint letter to open up a dialogue with the government and urge them to consider Mendip for a UBI pilot scheme.

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