Senedd Committee calls for expanded Universal Basic Income pilot
The Welsh Government’s proposed Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot for care leavers should be expanded, Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant has said.
Universal Basic Income is the idea that a government should pay all individuals a set salary – regardless of their means.
A cross-party Senedd report titled ‘A UBI Pilot for Wales’, concludes that a wider pilot scheme has the potential to produce even richer, more persuasive evidence than what would be gleaned from the current proposals.
The report was produced by the Committee in response to a petition submitted in August 2021 which called for an expansion of the UBI pilot and gained over a thousand signatures.
Last year, the Welsh Government indicated its desire to pilot UBI in Wales with that scheme targeting care leavers by giving them an additional sum of money each month.
The Committee concluded that the Welsh Government’s stated plan to trial the idea with 250 care leavers “has merit – improving outcomes for care leavers is an idea that has support across all Members”; but that applying a basic income to a broader group would allow policymakers to learn more about the impact of a UBI which proponents believe should apply to all citizens.
The report notes that the proposed sample size of 250 people is small and suggests the Welsh Government expand this group to ensure more robust results and a greater diversity among recipients.
With the welfare system in Wales run by the Treasury in London, the report states that the Welsh Government should make every effort to secure cooperation from UK Government agencies (specifically the Department of Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) to allow the widest possible pilot scheme.
The report’s final recommendations were that any UBI payments must be guaranteed, unconditional, and paid to the individual (not the household) and that the evaluation of the pilot should include a control group and be conducted by independent experts with experience of working with care leavers.
Jack Sargeant MS, the Chair of the Petitions Committee who led the first ever Senedd debate on a UBI pilot in Wales, said, “It’s clear from the evidence presented to us that broadening the pilot could have huge benefits.”
“The Welsh Government should investigate increasing the number of proposed recipients and include care leavers from as diverse as possible a range of backgrounds, locations, and circumstances to give us the evidence we need to properly evaluate this scheme.”
“While not all Members of the Committee support UBI, we all believe that a wider pilot scheme has the potential to produce richer, more persuasive evidence for the Welsh Government to consider.”
“I would like to extend my thanks to the petitioners whose passion for tackling poverty shone through and should be commended, as well as all those who signed the petition.”
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