Member of the Senedd Ken Skates has welcomed the Welsh Government’s plans to push ahead with a Universal Basic Income pilot scheme in Wales.
The Clwyd South MS raised the issue in the Senedd this week with Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, and was told a trial is due to take place in the new financial year.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an approach where a government provides adults with a regular, unconditional payment regardless of their other income.
Mr Skates said: “I am pleased the Welsh Government is exploring UBI as a possible option. Plans for a pilot are still at an early stage, but will look to focus on a small, targeted group. The First Minister has repeatedly said there are strong arguments for the pilot to focus on young people leaving care.
“As the First Minister has outlined previously, the pilot does need to be carefully designed to make sure that it is genuinely adding income for those involved in the trial and that it is affordable and delivered within the current powers of the Senedd, and also so that the Welsh Government is able to draw meaningful conclusions before considering any potential further action.
“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have welcomed this idea. I share their enthusiasm for the trial and will be eagerly following its development.”
Earlier this week, the First Minister said that subject to the resolution of ‘remaining practical matters’ the Welsh Government plans to introduce the pilot in the next financial year.
In the Senedd on Wednesday (October 20), Mr Skates said: “Minister, as you are aware, my north Wales colleague, Jack Sargeant, has spoken publicly and regularly in support of a trial to explore the feasibility of a universal basic income here in Wales. Are you able to provide an update on what progress the Welsh Government has made with regard to the launching of the trial?”
The Minister responded: “You will all have heard yesterday that the First Minister provided an update on the basic income pilot. He said, and I will repeat again to clarify: Subject to the resolution of remaining practical matters, including the interface of our basic income payments with the benefits system, we do plan to introduce the pilot in the financial year 2022. I will be issuing a ministerial update soon to provide more detail.”
The Minister added: “Basic income is about alleviating poverty. But it’s also about giving people more control over their lives, having a positive effect on mental health and well-being.”
During First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday, Mr Drakeford said: “It will be unconditional and it is going to involve a group of young people who we know from the many debates we’ve had on the floor of this Senedd are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society.
“Poverty is a real inhibitor on those young people being able to make decisions about their own futures, in which they can deploy their talents and find a path to their futures in a way that they themselves would choose to do, rather than being obliged to make hand-to-mouth decisions, driven by poverty, which confines their horizons to ‘how do I get through today? Where will I sleep this weekend? How will I be able to eat next week?’
“Our pilot is being shaped already, and we’ll learn the lessons as we go along which will give us valuable information for the future about how the concept of basic income could apply to other groups more widely across the Welsh population. Whatever the final outcome of the evaluation, the pilot will do good in the lives of some young people in Wales who most need that investment.”