Basic income would be ‘faster’ way to get money to people who need it
Co-leader of the Green Party Sian Berry and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talk UBI with the New Journal
02 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
INTRODUCING universal basic income (UBI) would have been a faster and simpler way to help millions thrown into the financial turmoil by the coronavirus epidemic, the co-leader of the Green Party has claimed.
Sian Berry, who is also a councillor in Highgate and a London Assembly, said the cash payments would have avoided the wait for help facing employees suddenly unable to work during the UK’s lockdown.
She said: “We have been looking at this for such a long time. If you had this system already in place it would make the administration of giving loans or wage relief so much easier and simpler and you wouldn’t have the delays we are seeing now or people having to receive help through their employer.”
She added: “Those who need help on top of UBI would be able to apply for it then and be given it as a top-up.”
“This is one crisis, but there will be more down the line and when they happen, like severe flooding, it would enable the government to help people directly and get funds to them without any huge administration cost.”
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In a job retention scheme, the government has agreed to fund 80 per cent of the wages of employees who are ‘furloughed’ for the next three months, although there is a debate over whether the system is already being abused as larger companies with big reserves joined the queue for the cash.
A similar formula has now been worked out for freelancers and the self-employed but payments will not be made until June.
Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the New Journal: “I think it’s an interesting suggestion but in a sense, a properly working social security system with working tax credits is almost a form of basic income.
“I would like to look at the way UBI could be introduced but in the meantime, the important thing is to have a social security system worthy of the name –not Universal Credit where people have to wait five weeks to get any benefit whatsoever.”