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Hull to explore universal basic income trial in welfare shake-up

Councillors in the East Yorkshire city will write to chancellor Sajid Javid to ask whether they can trial plans to pay every adult between £50 and £100 a week

Councillors in Hull will ask the government if they can launch a universal basic income (UBI) trial as the welfare shake-up continues to gather pace in the north of England.

Matt Jukes, the chief executive of Hull City Council, will pen a letter to chancellor Sajid Javid to request a pilot which will see every adult in the East Yorkshire city paid between £50 and £100 a week if approved.

People with additional needs would receive more with those on disability benefits receiving the equivalent amount.

Hull councillors gave the plans their backing at a meeting last week in the latest boost to universal basic income plans in the north of England.

The pioneering payment method was a key part of Labour’s manifesto for the last general election with shadow chancellor John McDonnell promising a trial of UBI in Liverpool and Sheffield if the party had come out on top.

But despite Labour’s mauling in the election, support for UBI remains strong in the north of England, even if the view is not shared by the government.


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Lib Dem Jack Haines is one of the councillors backing a UBI pilot in Hull. He said: “Hull is a progressive city and I’m proud the Liberal Democrats here as well as the other parties have chosen to try out this new policy, which has the possibility to transform the city and the country.”

Evidence of its ability to do that is, so far, limited. Finland is the only advanced economy to run a large-scale trial, paying 2,000 people €560 per month over two years, ending in December 2018.

Results from the first year of the trial demonstrated the study’s appeal as a social experiment that explored the removal of sanctions, rather than demonstrating any financial befits. The main impact UBI had was a boost in happiness and well-being.

In this week’s Big Issue magazine, happiness expert Richard Layard discusses why we should be measuring our success using that metric rather than GDP, so perhaps those results could yet be more significant than first thought. The findings from the second year of the trial are still to be released.

It’s not only in northern cities where calls for a universal basic income are being heard.

Bev Parker, the chief executive of Rural Action Derbyshire, insisted that a UBI could have a big impact in rural areas too.

Writing in a blog post for food network campaigners Sustain, Parker said: “What we need is a minimum basic income that recognises the real cost of living and that is topped up for people in rural areas to ensure that they do not suffer hardship. We need to promote the rural economy so that there are jobs near where people live and we need to make sure that workers are not exploited by unfair contracts and poor pay.”