- REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
- Royal Society for the Arts proposes universal basic income payments of £5,000 a year for two years.
- The plan would benefit 70% of the country and cost less than £15 billion a year.
- The payments would apply to everyone younger than 55 and not be means tested.
LONDON – Every man, woman and child in the UK under the age of 55 should receive two payments of £5,000 over two years, according to a proposal from the Royal Society for the Arts.
Under the universal basic income proposal, citizens could choose two years out of 10 to take the £5,000 payment, which would be funded either by a wealth tax, the creation of a sovereign wealth fund or a levy on corporate assets.
Such a payment would have a variety of social and economic benefits, the RSA said.
“A low-skilled worker might reduce their working hours to attain skills enabling career progression. The fund could provide the impetus to turn an entrepreneurial idea into a reality. It could be the support that enables a carer to be there for a loved one without the need to account for one’s caring to the state,” the RSA said.
The cost of the fund would be approximately £14.5 billion per annum over 13 years and benefit up to 70% of the entire population of the UK. The RSA compares the cost to that of the government’s pension protections, which cost more than £6 billion a year, but only benefit a fifth of the population. The payments would not be means tested, the RSA said.
Academics and politicians have debated whether countries need to implement universal basic income policies to cope with the effects of job automation and changing demographics. Similar schemes are being trialled in Scotland, Finland, Canada, and several other nations.
Anthony Painter, director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre, said in a BBC report: “The simple fact is that too many households are highly vulnerable to a shock in a decade of disruption, with storm clouds on the horizon if automation, Brexit and an ageing population are mismanaged.
“Without a real change in our thinking, neither tweaks to the welfare state nor getting people into work alone, when the link between hard work and fair pay has broken, will help working people meet the challenges ahead.”
The RSA, whose full name is the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, makes policy proposals that pursue the group’s belief that “all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.”