SOAS University of London

Study led by SOAS scholar on basic income is backed by Labour Party

14 May 2019

Professor Guy Standing, Professorial Research Associate in the Department of Development Studies, has published a report for the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer on basic income.

The report, Basic Income as Common Dividends: Piloting a Transformative Policy, published by the Progression Economy Forum makes a case for this by demonstrating the impact it could have on reducing economic insecurity in the UK. It also provides a roadmap for how it could be piloted.

Basic income is defined as payment in money, in regular intervals, that would offer significant difference to the income of those currently earning or receiving low incomes. The aim of UBI is to reduce the impact of eight key areas – inequality, insecurity, debt, stress, precarity, advances in AI, global warming and populism.

At the launch of the report on Tuesday 7 May, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said it was an “important contribution to the debate around inequality, austerity, poverty and how we establish a fair and just economic system”.

Professor Standing said: “In Britain 60% of those classified as in poverty have someone in the household in employment, which is 20% higher than in 1995. Wages in Britain have been stagnating for many years and low income families now need a third more income than a decade ago to have a socially acceptable (‘minimum income’) standard of living.

“This report urges an alternative plan to be taken forward that can reduce poverty and inequality, make nobody in the bottom half of the income distribution system worse off and enhance economic security across the country.”

The report also provides case studies for where basic income tests have taken place including in Finland, the Netherlands and Germany. It also includes examples from low-income developing countries Namibia, India and Kenya.

The full report is available here.