IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Corbyn backs universal basic income

Islington North MP says coronavirus crisis has ‘thrown up in stark relief, the inequalities of our society’

13 November, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I want us to move on a bit further on our attitudes towards security and stability’

ISLINGTON North MP Jeremy Corbyn has called for some form of universal basic income (UBI) amid concerns that the most vulnerable residents are being pushed into poverty because of Covid-19.

He argued for the measure at the online AGM of Islington People’s Rights on Tuesday, telling members that the current benefits system sanctions people “willy nilly, sometimes very, very unfairly”.

He said: “I want us to move on a bit further on our attitudes towards security and stability in our society. I’ve been following this debate quite carefully.”

Mr Corbyn said he would only support universal basic income alongside the provision of properly funded health, housing and education services.

Supporters say UBI, which would see everybody get a taxpayer-funded income, is the best way to protect low-paid workers.

The debate comes after the Tribune revealed the number of Universal Credit claimants soared by more than 9,000 from March 11 to midway through April, as the lock­down started and businesses and firms shut down.

And by June, the figure had more than doubled to 28,112. There are concerns the numbers will keep growing.

Mr Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party, said: “I want to see a strong provision of free education, of free health care, of care services, of housing provision, all those things that we have at the present time insufficiently, in our particular borough.

“But I also want to see a guaranteed level of income for everyone, which in a sense is what the national minimum wage was about and what the living wage campaign is about, and what the minimum pension income provisions are about.”

He said the alternative would be to force “millions” out of work and “frightened of the future”.

“Covid has thrown up in stark relief, the inequalities of our society,” Mr Corbyn said.

“If we can find the money to pay for furlough to subsidise wages in order to ensure that people don’t become destitute and provide resources to local authorities to end rough sleeping homelessness, we can do it all the time.”

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