Universal basic income is not a magic solution, but it could help millions

By Anthony Painter

The Guardian (Opinion)

Universal basic income is the idea that just won’t go away. At heart, it’s a very simple concept – every individual citizen should receive a regular payment on an unconditional basis. However, the actual structure and design varies considerably. Nonetheless, what has become clear in the last year or so is that there is growing desire across the globe, including in the UK, to explore, debate, test, design, and build support for a universal basic income.

Why now? There are a number of factors. Labour markets and systems of tax and social support have been through enormous change in the last quarter of a century. Some of these changes helped people into work and provided targeted financial support to individuals and families. But there is growing concern that we have seen the emergence of a “precariat” – insecure, often in poverty despite being in work, facing relentlessly complex life choices, a complexity reinforced by the operation of the welfare state. Inequality, precariousness, insecurity – lack of control over one’s life – are challenges that recent reforms have done too little to address.

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