Thursday’s Full Council meeting will see Labour Councillor for East Chesterton, Carla McQueen, table a motion calling for a pilot scheme that guarantees a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for local residents.
Inequality has become an increasing issue for Cambridge, with one in ten households earning an income of less than £16,518 a year[i] and a significant number of the city’s children living in poverty. Councillors hope that a scheme such as the one Cllr McQueen is proposing will help to tackle some of these issues.
Under a Universal Basic Income scheme, which recently received the backing of Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, all residents would receive a guaranteed amount from the state regardless of their employment status, wage level or family circumstances. This payment acts as an unconditional safety net and can mean less precarious lives for people moving in and out of work or working in insecure jobs and zero hours contracts.
Trial schemes have already been run in several countries – most recently in 2017 in Finland, with early indications of some positive results for those in lower income brackets.
Cllr McQueen explained the motivation behind her proposal;
“We are calling on a future Labour Government to consider Cambridge for a pilot UBI scheme, because we believe it is a positive way of addressing the equality gap here in our city. We believe all residents should have a decent standard of living, and all too often those in insecure work or on low wages can struggle to make ends meet. That’s not right, and we need to do something to address the impact on local families.
“Cambridge is a radical city, and we need radical action to address an issue that is affecting the lives of families across the city.”
Leader of the Council, Lewis Herbert, gave the motion his support;
“The City Council will continue to use all the powers it has to tackle inequality that leaves hundreds of local families in poverty, taking the lead on a Living Wage and delivering dozens of anti-poverty projects including food and cheaper energy. A Cambridge Universal Basic Income trial would increase the income of our worst-off residents and protect the income of families hit by insecure employment and low wages.”
Councillors will vote on the motion at Thursday’s Full Council meeting.