Posted: Wed 16th Feb 2022

Basic income trial of £19,200 a year for young care leavers in Wales is “an incredibly bold move,” says Jack Sargeant

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 16th, 2022

Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant has said a Basic Income trial paying young care leavers £1,600 a month will be “transformative.”

The Welsh Government has outlined plans to extend support for care leavers through a Basic Income pilot in Wales following engagement with a number of experts, stakeholders and care leavers.

The pilot will enhance the support available to young people as they leave care and assess the impact that has on them.

It will provide a test for the stated benefits of basic income, such as addressing poverty and unemployment and improving health and financial wellbeing.

All young people leaving care who turn 18 during a 12 month period, across all local authority areas, will be offered the opportunity to take part in this pilot.

The pilot will begin during the next financial year and it is anticipated over 500 young people will be eligible to join the scheme.

The pilot will run for a minimum of three years with each member of the cohort receiving a basic income payment of £1600 per month for a duration of 24 months from the month after their 18th birthday.

The Welsh Government involved care leavers directly in the development of the pilot as well as working with professionals in Local Authorities and have also established a Technical Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, bringing together experts in basic income and support for care leavers to inform the development and evaluation of the pilot.

Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant led the Senedd’s first debate on a UBI and chaired the Petitions Committees UBI inquiry, he said: “This is an incredibly bold move from a Welsh Government that is leading the world in this area.”

“I campaigned hard to get a UBI trial in our manifesto and for it to be the broadest trial it could possibly be, but nothing should distract from us celebrating how bold Mark Drakeford and Jane Hutt are being here.”

“We don’t all start life with the same chance of success and care leavers do face disadvantage, this support could and will be transformative.”

“We now need to ensure that we learn all we can from this trial and work with the participants. This is a real opportunity to show things can be different and we can support people to thrive.”

Outlining the reasoning behind the pilot, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “Our Basic Income announcement today complements the Welsh Government’s ambition to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are supported.”

“We know we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and we’re determined to continually look at how best to support individuals in Wales who live in poverty.”

“Care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults.”

“It’s also important to note that this policy is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), emphasising our commitment to strengthening the rights of children and young people in Wales.”

“Yet, too many young people leaving care continue to face significant barriers to achieving a successful transition into adulthood.”

“Our Basic Income pilot is an exciting project to deliver financial stability for a generation of young people that need it most.”

“The pilot will build on the existing support offered to looked after children in Wales and ensure young people who take part in this pilot get all the support they need to give them the best possible chance to make their way in life and the transition out of care better, easier and more positive.”

“We are fully committed to supporting those living in poverty, ensuring they receive adequate financial support so that everyone in Wales can live happy and healthy lives.”

The decision to go-ahead with a Basic Income trial has been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Partnership, Joel James MS, said: “Whilst I wholeheartedly support helping the poorest and most vulnerable in our country, the Labour Government is not even close to living in reality with this trial.

“Countless trials from across the globe have found Basic Income does not have the expected outcomes as it fails to incentivise work and proves time after time to be a waste of public money.

“If rolled-out across the board with every adult in Wales receiving £1,600 a month it would cost nearly £50 billion a year, and at the same time reward the wealthiest in society rather than helping those who need it most.

“Our NHS is at breaking point and our economy is in a fragile state, but instead of tackling those issues head-on, Labour are more interested in Basic Income – which will cost the country an absolute fortune.”

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