Spain is moving to permanently establish universal basic income in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

Men at a nearly empty Gran Via Street during the state of emergency by the government against the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid. Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Spain is taking steps to implement a basic income to help citizens weather the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus, which would make it the first nation in Europe to do so.
  • “We’re going to do it as soon as possible. So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever,” the minister of economic affairs said.
  • No specific date was unveiled.
  • In the US, Andrew Yang’s Democratic presidential campaign helped thrust the idea of universal basic income into the mainstream.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Spain is moving to implement a universal basic income as a measure to help workers battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadia Calviño, the country’s minister for economic affairs, told the Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday evening that the government was planning to introduce the cash handouts as part of a barrage of policies meant to help people get back on their feet.

She said enacting basic income was “mostly aimed at families, but differentiating between their circumstances.”

Calviño didn’t offer a specific date as to when basic income could be rolled out in the country. But she said the government hoped it would become “a permanent instrument.”

“We’re going to do it as soon as possible,” she said. “So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever.”

If the plan moves from proposal to reality, Spain would become the first nation in Europe to pass universal basic income, according to The Independent.

Finland previously tried a two-year basic-income experiment with 2,000 unemployed residents that ended in 2019, Business Insider’s Aria Bendix reported. Recipients reported they were happier and healthier, but many of them were still jobless.

It’s not immediately clear what universal basic income could look like in Spain, given that the proposal appears to be in its early stages. The concept generally entails regular no-strings-attached cash payments.

Spain enacted a nationwide lockdown on March 14 to try to curb the spread of the virus, effectively shutting down the economy as restaurants, bars, and hotels were ordered to closed their doors. The country reported more than 135,000 cases so far and 13,000 deaths.

To date, Spain has rolled out scores of measures to provide relief to both corporations and average people.

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The push for basic income in the US has its champions. The tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang thrust the idea of basic income into the mainstream with his plan for a “Freedom Dividend” during his Democratic presidential run, which ended earlier this year.

The plan would have guaranteed payments of $US1,000 a month – or $US12,000 a year – to every US citizen over the age of 18.

To help Americans deal with the fallout of coronavirus, the Trump administration signed a law to provide millions of Americans with one-time $US1,200 checks. Individuals earning below $US75,000 and couples making under $US150,000 qualify for the full amount.