Calls to expand and diversify 'Universal Basic Income' pilot in Wales

The Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot in Wales should be expanded and diversified, a Senedd committee has found.

In a report, entitled 'A UBI Pilot for Wales', the Petitions Committee concluded the current scheme for care leavers "has merit", but that a wider trial by the Welsh Government would allow policymakers to learn more about the impact of a UBI.

UBI is a government programme in which everybody receives a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of their employment status.

It is a minimum payment, designed to meet basic needs, paid to everyone individually, unconditionally.

In 2021, the Welsh Government said it wanted to pilot the scheme, targeting 250 care leavers by giving them an additional sum of money each month.

Proponents of the plans included those who believe UBI should apply to all citizens, and a petition submitted in August 2021 calling for an expansion of the pilot gained over a thousands signatures.

The committee, chaired by Jack Sargeant MS, invited a number of experts including Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Will Stronge, director of research at think tank Autonomy, Lydia Godden, Women's Equality Network (WEN) Wales, and Ewan Hilton, CEO of mental health charity Platfform to give evidence on the topic.

They concluded the government should consider increasing the size and diversity of the pilot scheme to provide more robust data, and ensure payments are guaranteed, unconditional, and paid to the individual, not the household.

It has also recommended the Welsh Government should make every effort to persuade UK Government departments such as the Department of Work and Pensions and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to support the widest possible pilot scheme.

Last year, research carried out by leading think tank Autonomy, found UBI would decrease overall poverty rates in Wales by 50%, and child poverty would decrease by 64%, bringing it to a rate of under 10% in Wales.

Jack Sargeant MS Credit: PA

Mr Sergeant said: "It's clear from the evidence presented to us that broadening the pilot could have huge benefits.

"The Welsh Government should investigate increasing the number of proposed recipients and include care leavers from as diverse as possible a range of backgrounds, locations, and circumstances to give us the evidence we need to properly evaluate this scheme.

"While not all Members of the Committee support UBI, we all believe that a wider pilot scheme has the potential to produce richer, more persuasive evidence for the Welsh Government to consider.

"I would like to extend my thanks to the petitioners whose passion for tackling poverty shone through and should be commended, as well as all those who signed the petition."