UBI debate in UK Parliament

Posted on October 17, 2020

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Scottish MP Ronnie Cowan from Inverclyde initiated a debate about UBI in the Backbench Business Committee of the UK Parliament on 13 October. He started his speech with the remarkable statement

“While writing this speech, I noticed that as soon as I typed in the letters “u” and “n”, my iPad prompted me to select “universal”; when I accepted that, it prompted “basic income”. It appears that my iPad has been paying more attention to me than the UK Government have. It also learns quicker.”

The lack of learning is particularly obvious when you read the response of Will Quince, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.  He claimed that Universal Credit was a success and the Government’s additional investment in the welfare safety net had caught those most affected by the situation. This is in sharp contrast to what Dame Louise Casey said in a BBC interview two days later.  She warned that people “weren’t coping before Covid.” Now families in the UK may face a period of destitution.

Will Quince said about the Finnish trial “a UBI test in Finland was abandoned as a flop after two years” and “Evidence suggests that UBI provides a disincentive to employment, and in the Finnish trial the Government have acknowledged—I repeat this, because it is important—the need for conditionality.” Obviously these statements are pure fiction. They are not supported by the final report of the Finnish study with promising positive outcomes about employment, health and trust in society.

We can only conclude that either Mr Quince was just reading a script where he had not checked the facts or deliberately tried to confuse the Committee and the Public. You can find out for yourself watching the debate or reading the minutes in the Hansard.