We should be guided by the evidence in planning for a post-Covid-19 worldby Antoinette Sandbach / May 12, 2020 / Leave a comment
Covid-19 has transformed the UK in ways which seemed unimaginable just a few short months ago. Key to this transformation has been a lockdown with huge implications for the UK economy. Approval ratings for the government’s actions are high, and recent opinion polls indicate this is largely due to the furlough scheme put in place by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Whatever life holds after lockdown, all the predictions are that our economy will suffer a severe shock. Now is the time to consider how we rebuild for the future and we should be looking at the evidence of the benefits of Universal Basic Income (UBI).
The furlough scheme has benefitted some, but has left out many. A widely-used saying has pointed out that we are all sailing in the same storm but our ships are different. For those whose income has been protected, their ship has found a safe port, but for others facing financial ruin, it is a disaster. We now live in a world where the government is being guided by expert advice. This should not just extend to our health but also to the economic impacts of Covid-19.
Last week Alistair Carmichael MP wrote an article for the Scottish Herald calling for more evidence about the benefits of UBI, saying “Income inequality has grown in this country and now poses a risk to social cohesion. A Universal Basic Income may be part of the answer to that. I frankly remain to be convinced but I have an open mind.” He is right to make this call for further evidence.
Liberal Democrats have long called for greater fairness and action to tackle income inequality, and this played a role in my choice to join the party, having left the Conservatives. But the recent Redfield and Wilton poll for the Daily Mail showed that 53 per cent of Conservative voters supported the idea of the government subsidising wages for those who didn’t feel it was safe to return to work. Liberal Democrat and Labour voters showed even higher approval, demonstrating a willingness to prioritise health and wellbeing despite this necessitating a greater role for the state.
For two years the government of Finland conducted a pilot into Universal Basic Income, amid…