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

Ellen Stewart
Sunday 27 December 2015 13:10
news

Welcome to Utrecht, the Dutch city planning to introduce a set "basic income" for all residents.

A "basic income" - first proposed by political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine in his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice - is a government determined sum unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without any means test or requirement to work.

The idea is that all will be entitled to the exact same amount and are free to chose whether they subsidise their granted income with additional work.

Utrecht and 19 other cities across the Netherlands are taking a "small step" towards the idea of a general basic income, introducing a scheme which will see small groups of benefit claimants paid £660 a month, keeping any additional earnings they make from work on top of that.

But what it actually means is instead of relying on means-tested benefits, struggling with sanctions and feeling pressure to find work that may not be suitable, participants will have the security of that cash every month, and, as Daniel Boffey writes for the Observer "the option to decide whether they want to add to that by finding work".

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is adamant a similar scheme could work in the UK.

I think in Britain people have quite a puritanical idea of work.

But this is an urgently needed policy. With increased job insecurity, the idea of everyone working nine to five is outdated. People go in and out of work these days.

People are increasingly working in what they call the gig economy. The current system is not fit for purpose.

Lucas says she will take the debate to parliament in the new year.

More: If you're a family on the National Living Wage, here's where you can afford David Cameron's new starter homes

More: The countries with the highest minimum wage

Trending