Finland’s basic income experiment has returned its long-awaited first results

Those given the £490-a-month payment reported improved wellbeing but there is no sign of a significant rise in employment

Finland’s much-heralded two-year basic income experiment has had the eyes of the world on it since it kicked off just over two years ago.

The trial ended in December and Kela, the Finnish benefits agency, has lifted the lid on the first set of provisional results of how the 2,000 people given €560 (£490) per month unconditionally reacted.

The headline news is that there was limited movement on the employment front during the first year of the trial, according to 2017 figures.

Basic income recipients worked on average just half a day more than the control group who did not receive the payment, in employment for 49.64 days compared to 49.25 days.

They also earned on average €21 less than the control group from self-employment, with employment figures for the second year of the trial due to arrive next year.

However, a survey revealed that 55 per cent of basic income recipients perceived their state of health as good or very good, compared to 46 per cent for the control group, while just 17 per cent reported feeling very stressed compared to a quarter of those without payments.

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And Finns on basic income also reported more confidence in finding employment and that there was less bureaucracy in claiming benefits as well as stating that that basic income makes them more likely to accept a job or start a business.

“The recipients of a basic income had less stress symptoms as well as less difficulties to concentrate and less health problems than the control group. They were also more confident in their future and in their ability to influence societal issues,” said Minna Ylikännö, lead researcher at Kela.

“The results of the register analysis and the survey are not contradictory. The basic income may have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the recipient even though it does not in the short term improve the person’s employment prospects.”

The provisional results will make interesting reading for Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and those in charge of Universal Credit, which has stumbled from crisis to crisis since roll-out across the country began.

Labour’s John McDonnell will also take a keen interest in the results after stating that a Universal Basic Income could make its way into his party’s election manifesto for the next General Election while Scotland is also exploring the idea.

However, more conclusive results are still to come with more to be released in stages throughout 2019 and 2020.

For more on Finland and how the country is working to help those on the margins in the country, keep an eye out for next week’s Big issue which will focus on Finns’ efforts to end rough sleeping.