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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