Green councillor calls on Town Hall to support Universal Basic Income

Green party Assembly Member Caroline Russell
Green Party councillor Caroline Russell. Photograph: GLA

Green councillor Caroline Russell is calling on the Town Hall this week to come out in support Universal Basic Income (UBI).

The Green Party in November of last year set out UBI as one of its policies, laying out the scrapping of Universal Credit and envisioning plans in which every adult receives at least £89/wk, with additional payments for people with barriers to employment, including disabled people, single parents and people of pension age.

The motion will be voted on by the majority Labour council. Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds recently confirmed that her party would not be advocating UBI at the next election, instead calling for the reform of Universal Credit through a reduction of the five-week wait for initial payment.

Russell’s motion reads: “There are many potential benefits to a UBI including a more flexible workforce and greater freedom to change jobs, supporting a caring economy to value unpaid work, removing the negative impacts of means testing, benefit sanctions and conditionality.

“[It would] break the link between work and consumption, thus helping reduce pressure on the environment and enable greater opportunities for people to work in community and cultural activities or to train or reskill in areas that will be needed to transition to a lower-carbon economy.

“The current crisis has increased the risk of poverty for many Islington
residents. This is the right time to trial UBI.”

Russell’s motion, if passed, would see the council lobby the government for a UBI trial in the borough, and to work with other local authorities to see a test of the policy in the capital.

The Green councillor went on to point to Trust for London statistics showing that Islington has some of the highest numbers of working-age residents on out-of-work benefits in London, sitting at 9.5 per cent compared to the city’s average of 4.9 per cent.

She added: “UBI could help alleviate poverty, opening the door to opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach, and liberate people from the anxiety of job insecurity through a monthly income regardless of employment status, wealth, or marital status.”

Councillors will vote on the motion this Thursday.