The unexpected benefit of universal income for your mental health

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Universal basic income is one of those policies that we get tempted by every now and again, before it disappears into the ether until the next general election and parties want to get voters onside.

But universal income has been a reality in Finland, where a pilot scheme was trialled for two years. In the first scheme of its kind, 2,000 unemployed people were given £473 every month (replacing any existing benefits), and weren’t asked about how they spent the money.

Those in the pilot still received their money even if they found work.

Marjukka Turunen, head of KELA, the legal unit at Finland's social insurance agency, said the scheme cut bureaucracy, reduced costs and tackled poverty. But one of the biggest impacts of the scheme was how much it improved people’s mental health.

She said on broadcaster Kera News:

There was this one woman who said: ‘I was afraid every time the phone would ring, that unemployment services are calling to offer me a job. This experiment really has an indirect impact, also, on the stress levels [of people] and the mental health and so on.

Basic income experiments are also due to take place this year in several cities in the Netherlands - so watch this space.

More: This Dutch city is giving all its citizens a basic income, and the Greens think it's a great idea for Britain

More: 9 things people with mental illnesses want you to understand

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