Finland’s experiment is a variation on the idea of a universal basic income: an unconditional income paid by the government to all citizens, whether or not they’re in work.
In some quarters a basic income is developing a reputation as the aspirin of the public policy world: a wonder drug that fixes multiple problems, from issues with the benefits system to replacing the jobs some argue will disappear from our lives.
A proposal for an undetermined level of basic income was rejected by 78% of Swiss voters in a referendum last year, although that may partly be explained by the fact that campaigners were calling for a very generous income level of £1,765 a month.
It’s not just the expense: critics warn that a universal basic income is unlikely to deliver the benefits its advocates claim.
Given divisions on the left in the UK, and a lack of interest from politicians of the right, basic income-supporting trade unionists such as Becca Kirkpatrick could face a long fight ahead. NO-STRINGS CASH – FROM PRINCIPLE TO PRACTICE. The idea of the universal basic income is that the government pays every adult citizen the basic cost of living.
After years spent on the margins of political thought, the universal basic income has, over the past year, gained traction among mainstream thinktanks and some in the Labour party.
A universal basic income could, they argue, protect the increasing numbers working in an insecure labour market and moving between zero-hours contracts and part-time jobs.