Rutger Bregman: ‘Free money works’

The Dutch economic powerhouse writes in this week's Big Issue about what's on everybody's lips: Universal basic income

Universal basic income is “what capitalism ought to have been striving for all along”, according to author and prominent economic thinker Rutger Bregman.

In this week’s Big Issue, the Dutchman sets out the argument for a basic income for all – and explains why the coronavirus pandemic has only strengthened his case.

“See it as a dividend on progress, made possible by the blood, sweat and tears of past generations,” he said. “In the end, only a fraction of our prosperity is due to our own exertions. We are rich thanks to the institutions, the knowledge, and the social capital amassed for us by our forebears. This wealth belongs to us all. And a basic income allows all of us to share it.”

Bregman wants us to remember that real change comes out of crises, beginning life as “experiments that ever so slowly change the world”. And you can’t argue with the science, he said: free money works.

“Now it’s time to scale up the experiment,” he said. “Millions of unemployed workers, gig workers and freelancers need a basic income, and they need it now.

“The Royal Society of Arts has already drawn up the plan: one payment of £1,500 and monthly payments of £450, combined with universal credit and housing costs after that. We can finance the whole thing with a wealth tax on the rich – another idea whose time has come.

“After the financial crisis of 2008, we had a bail-out for the banks. Now we need a bail-out for the people.”

For more detail on Bregman’s idea – and the plan backed by a growing number of people, including politicians – pick up a copy of The Big Issue this week from Sainsbury’s, McColl’s or Co-op stores or directly from The Big Issue Shop. You can also subscribe to receive the magazine directly from your device or your front door, head to for details.

And the newest way to get your hands on the magazine is from The Big Issue app, available now from the Apple Store and the Google Play store.

This article is part of The Big Issue’s ongoing After The Virus series. To read more brilliant people plotting a path for Britain beyond the pandemic lockdown, head here.