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My New Year's Wish....Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (Oreolife / Alamy Stock Photo)

2 min read

A universal basic income would bring security and comfort for all

Let’s assume that we don’t have a Hermione Granger time-turner, so can’t go back to 2010 and institute a massive programme of home insulation and energy efficiency, so every British home is warm, comfortable and affordable to heat, on a land dotted with onshore wind and solar panels on every roof, thumbing our collective noses at President Vladimir Putin.

In the absence of time travel, I’ll go for something equally or even more transformatory. Let’s see in England, linked up with plans already under way in Wales and Northern Ireland, an integrated set of trials of universal basic income (UBI).

Public opinion on UBI is shifting fast – attracted by the idea that no one need worry about putting food on the table and a roof over their head

Of course, as I heard an India delegate say at the Basic Income Earth Network conference in Finland: “they didn’t trial the end of slavery.” But public opinion on UBI is shifting fast – attracted by the idea that no one need worry about putting food on the table and a roof over their head, as so many millions now do, and trials will help take us toward implementation.

I’ve no doubt they will show, as those in Finland and many other nations have, that UBI has big positive effects on mental and physical health and wellbeing, and transformatory effects on whole communities from genuine, unconditional, security. They’d offer ultimate freedom: not a boss or the state deciding how you spend your time, energy and talents, but you.

And can I add, if not a four-day working week as standard with no loss of pay, at least the right for any employee to ask for it?

Baroness Bennett, Green Party peer

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