175 MPs and Peers have called on the Government to introduce Universal Basic Income (UBI) as part of an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic.
They say this “innovative and bold solution” would “give everyone the financial support they need to provide for themselves and their families during this crisis.”
The letter which was co-ordinated by Alex Sobel MP insists the measure is “practical not ideological” and would be “far more effective than subsidising company payroll.”
The cross-party group of MPs and Peers argue that the economy is much different from 2008. They say “The app-based driver is not paid when there is no work. Nor is the zero-hours warehouse worker, the children’s entertainer or the agency-supplied care worker. Many people do not have employers incentivised by the Government to keep paying them.”
Whilst UBI does not currently receive widespread political backing, the idea of it as an emergency measure as a way to deal with the financial fallout of the Coronavirus outbreak has support from across the political divide.
As the letter points out, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately." The idea has also been backed by former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. UBI advocate Andrew Yang is also said to be working with the White House to forward the policy.
Writing for the independent this morning Alex Sobel said, “Whilst ensuring and safeguarding the health of the public is of the highest importance, our attention must also be on the millions of people for whom the financial fall out of the virus will be life changing and destructive.
The point will come very soon where movements will be heavily restricted and only those designated as key to the Coronavirus relief effort and are symptomless will be working.
This unprecedented challenge needs an unprecedented response. We must give everyone the basic financial support they need to provide the necessities of everyday life through this crisis. We must build a non-partisan, pragmatic coalition for a measure that will do just that.”