Councillors react to Universal Basic Income proposals

Councillors ‘will have a discussion’ about proposals that could see free cash handouts given to Sheffield’s residents.

The plans, put together by UBI Lab Sheffield, call on all 84 councillors in Sheffield to throw their support behind a pilot of Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the city.

UBI would see all citizens given a guaranteed income regardless of their eligibility for benefits or their employment status.

Last year, shadow chancellor John McDonnell expressed support for the idea, suggesting plans for a pilot could make their way into Labour’s next election manifesto.

Douglas Johnson, Green Party councillor for Sheffield’s City ward, was keen to express his support for a Sheffield-based UBI pilot.

He said: “It’s something that we’ve all talked about from time to time over the years. We reckon it could work really well.

“The point now is to make it something that’s talked about, build on the awareness of a basic income and sell it to national government.”

Launched on 9 March at a UK-wide summit for UBI activists in Sheffield, the proposal has been designed by Sheffield-based academics and researchers, informed by several workshops.

UBI Lab Sheffield aims to build a groundswell of support for a Sheffield pilot from organisations across the city, including the City Council and the universities.

Jason Leman, chair of UBI Lab Sheffield was keen to stress South Yorkshire’s trailblazing radical history when discussing the proposals.

He said: “As a city, we have a heritage that recognises the value of creating and caring alongside work.

“This history goes from the associations of little mesters, to Ruskin, to the strong communities, creativity and businesses we have across the city today.

“That’s why Sheffield would be a perfect place to try out a basic income, and see whether it could make a positive change to the lives of people and communities.”

Mary Lea, Labour councillor and cabinet member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, said there had not yet been a chance to debate the proposal.

She said: “It’s only been out a week. We will have a discussion no doubt, and have a debate about it and see what we take from it.”

The full pilot proposal and executive summary is available on UBI Lab Sheffield’s website.