Senedd backs Lib Dem call to extend basic income pilot to heavy industry

The Senedd yesterday voted to back calls for the Welsh Government’s Basic Income (BI) pilot to be extended to workers employed in heavy industries who will be impacted by the transition of Wales to a net zero carbon economy.

The vote on the debate, which was introduced by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds, was not binding but means the Welsh Government should now look at the feasibility of extending the pilot.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats argued that in extending the basic income scheme to communities dependent on jobs in heavy industry the sector could avoid seeing the destruction inflicted by Thatcher repeated as industry and the economy changes to meet net-zero commitments.

The leader of the Lib Dems in the Senedd, Jane Dodds said:

It is fantastic to see the Senedd support this idea. I would like to thank the cross-party support we have received and UBI Lab Wales for their support also.

The global economy is undergoing the most significant transformation seen in decades. As we confront the threat of climate breakdown, industry is having to change faster than before in order to meet our climate goals.

The transition to net-zero is not only essential, but also inevitable. Countries that fail to prepare for it will be increasingly hard hit by the instabilities associated with global heating and consequential changes to the economy and workforce.

For those who currently work in heavy industry, which often relies on carbon-intensive processes to produce raw materials and manufactured goods, this transformation poses significant challenges.

We must ensure that communities currently reliant on carbon-intensive employment are supported to transition, not left to whither.

By extending the BI pilot from care leavers to industrial workers, the Welsh Government could provide communities with an insurance policy, preventing communities from falling into further poverty and decline as industries change. We could make the case for a safety net through which nobody would fall but from which everyone could rise.

Equally as important, a BI for this group of workers can be used to support people while they undergo retraining and upskilling to gain employment in the industries of the future. We can empower workers to determine their own futures, rather than being caught in the space between low-paid and insecure work and a punitive social security system.

We cannot, under any circumstances, repeat the catastrophic mistakes of Thatcher and the Conservatives where whole communities in Wales were destroyed by the closing of industries with no plan to replace them and no plans to reskill the workers who lost their jobs.

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3 Comments

  • Peter Hirst 15th Jul '22 - 3:39pm

    I like the idea of extending BI to any sector that is at risk of losing jobs because of climate change. Sectors could apply for this. We must protect workers who lose employment because we move to a net zero economy.

  • I like the idea of extending BI to any sector that is at risk of losing jobs because of climate change.

    Probably, need a rebranding as this would seem to have much in common with the COViD furlough scheme. Getting away from the “BI” label would also permit combination with regional and sector-specific regeneration investment.

    Also ‘BI’ implies some form of wage subsidy and thus no expectation that workers will be given time and opportunity to reskill and diversity, whereas the furlough scheme was clear that employees on furlough could not simply be “home-based” workers.

  • Peter Hirst 15th Jul ’22 – 3:39pm:
    I like the idea of extending BI to any sector that is at risk of losing jobs because of climate change.

    Maybe start with the climate change modelling sector? It’s now over six years since the planet was warming and the world’s average temperature has since cooled to 0.06˚C above the average for the 1991 to 2020 base period…

    Global Temperature:
    https://temperature.global/#one

    Global Temperature Report: The University of Alabama in Huntsville:
    https://www.nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

    Not what was predicted.

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