The cities trying out universal basic income

The Guardian

For the first time in many years, Lance Dingman has food in his freezer.

Dingman, from Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, lost one of his legs in 1988 as a result of a bone infection and now has a prosthetic; he has also struggled with his mental health. He used to receive a disability benefit, but the amount was so low as to leave him no way out of poverty. Today Dingman, 56, is paid C$1,900 (£1,080) per month under the city’s basic income pilot project – and he says the difference is life-changing.

“I’ve been able to plan ahead, especially for food,” he says. “My overall health has improved because my diet is better. I can also afford hygiene products – which was very difficult before.”

Most significant of all is the impact on his confidence. “Basic income has given me freedom to live with some dignity with a little extra money to buy the essentials in life,” says Dingman. “I want to make the most of this opportunity and work up to a full-time job eventually ... I feel much more in control of my own life.”

Hamilton, a city of about 551,000 people, is now a third of the way through its three-year experiment with a universal basic income (UBI) scheme. Funded by the provincial government, the pilot is testing whether a basic income of up to C$17,000 for all 1,000 participating individuals –plus a C$6,000 supplement for those with a disability – is more effective in reducing poverty than its existing social security system.

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