Agenda item

Universal Basic Income

Proposed by Cllr Garden, seconded by Cllr Gant

Liberal Democrat member motion

This Council recognises that financial security is critical to a stable and thriving society. Yet, too many people are without enough money to meet their basic needs. Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an opportunity to revolutionise a welfare system that is no longer fit for purpose.

The Bank of England predicts that unemployment levels will rise to 7.7% by the middle of next year. Oxford will not be immune. Businesses closing, zero hour contracts and gig economy adding further uncertainty. Housing is expensive and too much income is being spent on rent or mortgages so we can expect an increase in evictions and homelessness. These trends are likely to persist and worsen as climate change intensifies requiring significant industry restructuring.

Demand for financial state support is anticipated but there’s little confidence that Universal Credit will be sufficient. The system is intrusive and demeaning, and has caused much distress and hardship even before the current crisis. Many are expected to fall through the gaps.

Financial inequality impacts social cohesion and productivity. The consequent cost to the health, police, education and social services are immense.

We need a more flexible and supportive social security infrastructure to allow society to cope with the necessary changes. Poverty and inequality pose great threat to the economic recovery. But with the right support, individuals could be empowered to embark on new enterprises and retraining for new careers. Rebuilding can be successful, and support the much need transition to a low-carbon high-tech economy, but we need a strong confident innovative workforce.

UBI would provide every adult (regardless of employment status, wealth, or marital status) with a fixed, regular and unconditional income to relieve some of the financial pressures facing households. It’s a monthly grant sufficient to contribute to the basic needs of food, shelter and education. It is a fair way of eliminating poverty, guaranteeing a minimum standard of living, and improving well-being. It helps the local economy by providing stability and security; allowing people to thrive rather than just survive.

There have been several trials of basic income internationally and most recently in Finland. Results have been encouraging. Spain is rolling it out as part of their COVID-19 response measures.

The Scottish government is considering the practicalities. The UK government has not come out in support as yet, but several authorities (Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull in the north, and Brighton and London in the south) are calling for trials. This requires political will and Oxford should stand in solidarity with them.

The Council calls on the Leader:

1.     to write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy requesting that the government considers Oxford for a pilot study.

2.     to circulate the response from the government to all council members once the reply is received.

3.     that Oxford campaigns for a Universal Basic Income.

 

References:

1: "The Many Faces of Universal Basic Income US Basic Income ...."

http://www.usbig.net/pdf/manyfacesofubi.pdf. Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

2: "Radical transformation or technological intervention? Two ...."

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X19301652 . Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

3: "Universal Basic Income: A Dynamic Assessment | NBER." 11 Jun. 2020,

https://www.nber.org/papers/w27351 . Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

4: "Universal basic income in the developing world - MIT Economics." 4 Feb. 2019,

https://economics.mit.edu/files/16000 . Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

5: "A universal basic income: the answer to poverty, insecurity ...." 12 Dec. 2016,

https://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i6473 . Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

RutgerBregman (2017-03-14). Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World . Little, Brown and

Company/Hachette Book Group USA.

World Economic Forum Growth Development Index 2017

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Forum_IncGrwth_2017.pdf

6: "Basic Income Scotland." https://basicincome.scot/ . Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Garden, seconded by Cllr Gant proposed the submitted motion including the proposer’s minor amendment as set out in the briefing note,

After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.

 

Council resolved to adopt the following motion:

This Council recognises that financial security is critical to a stable and thriving society. Yet, too many people are without enough money to meet their basic needs. Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an opportunity to revolutionise a welfare system that is no longer fit for purpose.

The Bank of England predicts that unemployment levels will rise to 7.7% by the middle of next year. Oxford will not be immune. Businesses closing, zero hour contracts and gig economy adding further uncertainty. Housing is expensive and too much income is being spent on rent or mortgages so we can expect an increase in evictions and homelessness. These trends are likely to persist and worsen as climate change intensifies requiring significant industry restructuring.

Demand for financial state support is anticipated but there’s little confidence that Universal Credit will be sufficient. The system is intrusive and demeaning, and has caused much distress and hardship even before the current crisis. Many are expected to fall through the gaps.

Financial inequality impacts social cohesion and productivity. The consequent cost to the health, police, education and social services are immense.

We need a more flexible and supportive social security infrastructure to allow society to cope with the necessary changes. Poverty and inequality pose great threat to the economic recovery. But with the right support, individuals could be empowered to embark on new enterprises and retraining for new careers. Rebuilding can be successful, and support the much need transition to a low-carbon high-tech economy, but we need a strong confident innovative workforce.

UBI would provide every adult (regardless of employment status, wealth, or marital status) with a fixed, regular and unconditional income to relieve some of the financial pressures facing households. It’s a monthly grant sufficient to contribute to the basic needs of food, shelter and education. It is a fair way of eliminating poverty, guaranteeing a minimum standard of living, and improving well-being. It helps the local economy by providing stability and security; allowing people to thrive rather than just survive.

There have been several trials of basic income internationally and most recently in Finland. Results have been encouraging. Spain is rolling it out as part of their COVID-19 response measures.

The Scottish government is considering the practicalities. The UK government has not come out in support as yet, but several authorities (Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull in the north, and Brighton and London in the south) are calling for trials. This requires political will and Oxford should stand in solidarity with them.

The Council calls on the Leader:

1.     to write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy requesting that the government considers a pilot study of Universal Basic Income;

2.     to circulate the response from the government to all council members once the reply is received.