Boost for Labour as poll finds public support for universal basic income plan

Posted On: 
3rd August 2018

Forty percent of people would back the introduction of a universal basic income scheme of the kind currently being considered by Labour, a new poll has found.

John McDonnell has proposed a universal income.
Credit: 
PA

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell this week revealed that the party could include plans to trial a universal basic income - which could see means-tested benefits scrapped in favour of an unconditional flat rate payment to all citizens - in its next election manifesto.

“It will be thrown into the discussions about the next manifesto – that’s one of the ideas that a lot of people are pressing for," the Labour frontbencher told the Independent.

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A fresh study by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) reveals that just 17% of the public would oppose such a plan, with 41% coming out in favour of a basic income scheme.

Meanwhile, 40% of respondents said they would back a universal basic income experiment in their local area, with just 15% against.

However, the study reveals mixed views on the finer points of the scheme, variations of which have been tried out in countries including Canada and Finland.

While nearly half (49%) of people said they believed basic income would help cut the stigma associated with claiming benefits, 45% had concerns it would be "unaffordable".

But the RSA's Anthony Painter said a basic income could replace a string of "failing" and "draconian" benefits.

"By contrast, our poll shows that in an era of widespread economic insecurity, policymakers have the public’s support to start exploring innovative alternatives to today’s failing and unpopular welfare system," he said.

"Basic income is no magic bullet, but with HM opposition exploring the idea and the Scottish government looking to pilot it with four Scottish councils, basic income is increasingly seen as one plausible response to modern economic insecurity."

The details of Labour's trial are currently being thrashed out as part of a review commissioned by the party to overhaul the welfare state, which is expected to be published in the autumn.

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