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The Economic Committee (EC) held two meetings on 20 January and 2 March to discuss whether to recommend a trial of Universal Basic Income (UBI) in London. The London Assembly Members Ms Sian Berry (Green Party) and Ms Caroline Pigeon (Liberal Democrat) introduced a motion to trial UBI during a previous meeting of the General Assembly where it was passed to the economy committee for consideration. During the first meeting the committee put questions to expert guests including Daniel Mermelstein of UBI Lab London. You can read reports about the first meeting in the Ealing Times ‘London Assembly delays vote on Universal Basic Income trial’ and Big Issue ‘Could London introduce Universal Basic Income in 2021’ when no decision was taken.
During the second meeting on 2 March (0:38 – 1:35) the founder of the Centre for Welfare Reform and UBI Lab Sheffield provided the committee with more evidence from Basic Income trials around the world. However the most interesting and shocking evidence came from the Conservative Mayoral candidate for London, Shaun Bailey. He stated as reasons why he opposed a UBI trial that some vulnerable people would use UBI for drugs and we had a duty of care to them, UBI would cause inflation, undermine the work ethic and UBI was not well defined. Especially the first and third reasons highlight his paternalistic and negative prejudices about his fellow citizens. You can find out more about the EC meeting in the Guardian ‘Tory London mayor hopeful says basic income would be used for ‘lots of drugs’ ‘, the Daily Mirror ‘People would blow Universal Basic Income on ‘lots of drugs’, top Tory claims’ and the BBC ‘Shaun Bailey: Tory mayoral candidate says universal income would be used for drugs’. Despite his objections the meeting has voted in favour of trialling a UBI in London. It will be up to individual boroughs to host such a pilot scheme.