The Labour party has joined a growing list of organisations considering the possibility of backing a universal basic income after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the party is “closely looking” at the idea.
The Daily Telegraph reports that McDonnell said universal basic income “is an idea Labour will be closely looking at over the next few years” adding that it could help society cope with an upcoming revolution in jobs and technology.
As part of Labour’s look into basic income, McDonnell will attend the launch of a new report into basic income by campaign group Compass at the House of Commons on Monday.
Speaking about the report, McDonnell said it “makes an interesting case for universal and unconditional payment to all that could prepare our country for any revolution in jobs and technology to come.”
Basic income is rapidly gaining popularity in some circles, with a number of experiments with the unconditional distribution of free money planned in coming years. Although the idea suffered something of a setback over the weekend after 78% of voters in a Swiss referendum on its introduction voted against the proposal, basic income is still gaining traction in the mainstream.
Over the next 12 months major basic income pilot schemes will be carried out in both Finland and the Netherlands, while the city of Lausanne in Switzerland is also considering a separate initiative — this is unconnected with the central Swiss proposal.
The premise of basic income is pretty simple: give people a monthly cash injection to cover living expenses such as food, transport, clothes, and utilities, regardless of their income, social status, or anything else for that matter. No questions asked.
The idea behind it is that by giving everyone the same amount of cash, it gets rid of overly bureaucratic, complicated welfare states, and makes ensuring all citizens have a decent standard of living much easier.
It has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum, with right-wingers liking the removal of government interference it brings, and those on the left favouring the lifetime safety net for lower income people it provides.