Activists calling for a universal basic income (UBI) to be trialled in England have accused the UK government of failing to properly assess how well the model could prevent poverty.
Wales and Scotland have joined the growing number of countries to hold trials into how such a scheme might work, but campaigners for the UBI Lab Network say ministers in the Westminster government have done little more than cherry pick old articles and statements which support their position. Conservative politicians have been resistant to the idea of a UBI, which would mean everyone in the country is given the same regular payment to ensure no one has an income lower than a set amount.
In a freedom of information request seen exclusively by The Big Issue, Department of Work and Pensions minister Will Quince told Stroud Council that a UBI would be an “extremely expensive approach”. But campaigners for the UBI Lab Network warned MPs have not carried out a proper investigation into the idea, claiming Quince’s research amounted to a “few old articles cobbled together from the internet”.
“This freedom of information release shows that the DWP have done no serious analysis of how a UBI might work in the UK,” said James Lock of the campaign group. “It is alarming that the department responsible for welfare and social security would take such a slapdash approach to investigating policies that could lift millions of people out of poverty.
“Rather than just cobbling together a few old articles from the internet, we call on the DWP to carry out a proper study into what a universal basic income could look like in the UK. This policy has the potential to end absolute poverty for good – it’s only right that our government carry out serious research into how it would work in practice.”
In response, a DWP spokesperson said: “Universal credit has delivered during the pandemic, providing vital support to millions. Unlike a universal basic income, our approach to welfare recognises the value of supporting people into well-paid work while protecting the most vulnerable in society.”