In England’s first ever trial of universal basic income, 30 people could be paid £1600 a month without any obligations to work. The trial will aim to analyse the impact this standard income can have on people’s lives.
The pilot, proposed by the think tank Autonomy, will run for two years and draw out participants from Jarrow, north-east England and East Finchley, London in a bid to see if the scheme is an effective means of tackling inequality and poverty.
If successful, there is the potential that the government could adopt universal basic income which would see all people in society receiving the same salary regardless of their means or ability.
Universal basic income in the wake of AI
The concept of universal basic income has come into the spotlight recently because of developments and integration of AI in the workplace, which has proposed the possibility of mass layoffs across a variety of sectors.
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Earlier this year, a report from Goldman Sachs said AI could replace 300 million full-time jobs. Universal basic income would be a potential solution to widespread unemployment if many jobs were to be replaced with AI.
Despite this, many critics of universal basic income claim the scheme would end up costing the government too much money and take away funding from other areas of public service.
In a note on the Autonomy website, social researcher Dr David Frayne has the potential outcome of giving workers power to reject work that’s unsuitable, fight for better working conditions, and do the things that actually interest them. He states: “Another compelling reason to promote UBI is that it promises to remedy the depressing wastage of time and talent witnessed in the present, where social inclusion still depends on the ability to keep a job.
“Basic Income could solve this problem by giving people the resources to undertake productive activities for themselves and for each other, if they so choose. The hope is that, with the benefit of time and a guaranteed income, people would be able to develop a range of interests and capacities outside employment. You can finally do the thing you actually want to do.”