Norwich: fourth city in England calls for a UBI Pilot

Posted on July 22, 2020

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Norwich City Council has passed a motion calling on the government to launch a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot in the city. After Liverpool in 2018, Sheffield in 2019 and Hull in January this year Norwich is the fourth city which wants to run a UBI pilot in their communities.

The majority Labour group and the minority Green group put forward separate motions calling for a pilot.

The motion put forward by the majority Labour group calls on Norwich Council to:

“write to the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and Norwich Members of Parliament to request that the Norwich City Council administrative area becomes a pilot area for Universal Basic Income within the next 6 months.”

Karen Davis, Labour Party councillor, who proposed the motion said:

“Covid has brought the inadequacies of the welfare system to the forefront of people’s minds. For the first time, many people have found themselves unemployed and at the mercy of the DWP. With 5 week minimum waits for UC, rising inequality and a decade of austerity, there is no better time to pilot UBI and stimulate the local economy. We should not be a country reliant on foodbanks and supermarket vouchers to feed our children.”

Another motion put forward by the minority Green Party group was not discussed. It called on Norwich Council to write to the Good Economy Commission for Norwich and ask them to examine UBI as a potential component of a fairer economy in the city.

The Good Economy Commission is a collaboration between Norwich City Council, major local employers, educational institutions, such as the University of East Anglia, and local social enterprises, and aims to set a course for a more inclusive economy in Norwich.

Jamie Osborn, Green Party councillor and co-founder of UBI Lab Norfolk, who proposed the second motion, said:

“Universal Credit and now the impact of Covid-19 have hit Norwich hard: more and more people have been saying to me that they fear for the future. A Universal Basic Income would not only provide security, it would mean hope for thousands of people in the city who have been excluded by benefits stigma and sanctions.

Norwich is also such a vibrant city with a strong arts scene and a community feel, and a UBI would support that.”

The motions are the result of work by UBI Lab Norfolk – a group of activists, campaigners and academics who are exploring the potential of UBI in the county. The group launched on 17 June this year with an event featuring Norwich South MP Clive Lewis and Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for the East of England.

UBI Lab Norfolk is part of the UBI Lab Network – a coalition of now 24 autonomous groups across the UK and around the world working towards Basic Income pilots in their communities.

The UBI Lab Network are campaigning for other cities and towns across the UK to call for UBI pilots in their area – creating a movement for change among communities who have been failed by business-as-usual economics from Westminster. Will Leeds be the next city?

For more detailed information about the Norwich Council session, please read the article in the local Eastern Daily Press and another in evolvepolitics.