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An argument for Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Listen to Peter Ellington, Director at Triple Bottom Line Accounting Ltd and Associate Professor at the UEA Norwich Business School discuss why a #UniversalBasicIncome (UBI) is needed to replace the various grants and loans that have been made available by the UK government to keep the post-pandemic economy working into the future. Peter was talking to Chris Goreham of @BBCRadioNorfolk this morning, as a motion was put to Norwich City Council to pilot a Universal Basic Income (UBI), paid to everyone, regardless of employment status, wealth or marital status.



Peter suggests that UBI would be a fair way to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s incomes while also supporting an economic recovery. He explains that the Coronavirus Job Retention Schemes, Self-Employment Income Support, and other grants and loans are a great help to business and self-employed individuals.  However, many more people have missed out due to not being employed or trading on particular cutoff dates. With the threat of significant unemployment, many in need of support will not receive it.


To those that argue that handing out money would disincentivise some people from looking for paid employment, Peter cited a recent trial in Finland that proved the opposite was the case. Those who spend night and day merely subsisting would be confident about paying their rent and put food on the table. This would allow for time and money to retrain for better-paid employment and/ or think creatively about adapting business to the new normal. UBI would open up further discussions about money and society, and how we treat each other and the environment.


Before the pandemic, it was argued that you cannot expect the government to hand out money; “austerity” was the policy for recovery.  The recent very welcome initiatives to help businesses and individuals survive have proved that anything is possible. But grants shouldn’t be based on being in the right place at the right time, everyone should be entitled to a Universal Basic Income.  For the future, we need to start thinking about how we can make capitalism fairer.  A UBI pilot would be a great way to begin reengineering capitalism towards a more equitable model and is key to adaptation to climate change and other challenges that we face in society.


Peter was also interviewed for an article in the EDP and EADT business sections on Wednesday 7th October 2020.

Could we ever see universal basic income in East Anglia?

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