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Call for Norwich to pilot new scheme giving monthly income to all in city

PUBLISHED: 15:06 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:19 16 July 2020

Green city councillor Jamie Osborn (left) and Labour city councillor Karen Davis (right). Picture: Ella Wilkinson/Supplied by Jamie Osborn

Green city councillor Jamie Osborn (left) and Labour city councillor Karen Davis (right). Picture: Ella Wilkinson/Supplied by Jamie Osborn

Ella Wilkinson/Supplied by Jamie Osborn

Everyone in Norwich should get a monthly income to cover their basic costs of living, say councillors who want the city to be a pilot for radical reform.

Labour city councillor Karen Davis. Picture: Ella WilkinsonLabour city councillor Karen Davis. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Two motions will go before Norwich City Council on Tuesday, July 21, asking the authority to back a pilot of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), paid to everyone, regardless of employment status, wealth or marital status.

Councillors Karen Davis and Beth Jones, from the controlling Labour group, have a motion requesting leader Alan Waters to ask the government and city MPs to make Norwich a six month pilot area for a scheme.

And the opposition Green group at City Hall, has also put forward a motion wanting a pilot scheme in the city, saying it is the fairest and most effective way to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on people’s incomes.

They say it would also help support economic recovery.

Green city councillor Jamie Osborn. Picture: Jamie OsbornGreen city councillor Jamie Osborn. Picture: Jamie Osborn

Supporters of UBI say it would be better than the current means-tested Universal Credit benefit, which they say is inefficient and full of loopholes which mean people are denied support.

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They say it would provide financial security for everyone, and help people who are doing work which is unpaid, such as caring for family.

Green city councillor Jamie Osborn, part of the campaign group UBI Lab Norfolk, who is proposing the Green 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.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“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.”

He said the cost of it would depend on whether it was city-wide or in specific wards, but said it could be funded through general taxation.

Mr Waters said: “We need an overhaul of the system and UBI is an idea which has emerged, so it seems entirely sensible to look at this.”

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis was one of more than 170 MPs and peers who wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year to call for a Recovery UBI in response to coronavirus.

In April, Mr Sunak ruled out the introduction of such a scheme, although the calls for it to be introduced have continued.


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