Why the Lib Dems need to lead the charge for #EmergencyUBI

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Here in Hull, where I’m a Liberal Democrat Councillor, I was proud that in January we moved a motion that, with unanimous support called on the Government to run the first UK pilot of Universal Basic Income (UBI). This would see every person receive a fixed amount of money to free them from financial insecurity – protecting the most vulnerable in society.

It’s safe to say much has changed since January, but the issue of Universal Basic Income is more important than ever before. The Corvid-19 virus has plunged our nation into chaos and shown how financial insecurity through the nation is rife. We have a duty as a progressive party that champions freedom to act.

I was delighted that one of our leadership hopefuls Layla Moran backed our cause in Hull to the hills and even more so that she has recently written to the Government calling for an emergency UBI.

Liberal Democrats up and down the country should be championing this policy especially given its clear advantages in times of crisis.

We as a party have to step up and recognise that to help people worried about financial insecurity in this time of crisis, we have to back a Universal Basic Income support package that can free those affected from the shackles of financial worry.

I’m calling on the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party to do everything in its power to pressure the Government to implement an emergency UBI package at haste. Gig economy workers, small businesses and ordinary people of this country should have a hand up from this government and UBI is exactly that.



* Jack Haines joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 at the age of 16 and was elected as a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Hull in 2019. He is a campaigner for Lib Dems for Basic Income @LDforBI.

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  • Laurence Cox 19th Mar '20 - 10:51am

    This is a very sensible proposal, because it reaches those in the gig economy, that other approaches find hard to reach. I would suggest that we set it at the Living Wage level for a full working week. For those in work but laid off, it could be paid through their employers, who would then have the option to make up the money to their regular salary.

  • As highlighted in a previous thread UBI is extraordinarily expensive. It looks as if evictions are going to be banned through the emergency measures, With that done basic survival also requires food and some energy.

    At his stage wouldn’t food parcels for those obliged to self isolate and the jobless be a more practical step? With some energy allowance added to the package.

    It looks as if the nation is going to be in a dire financial state by the time the virus is defeated – is it sensible to make a recovery almost impossible by providing more than is absolutely necessary at this early stage?

  • Sad news – 69 year old Michel Barnier has tested positive for the virus.

  • David Becket 19th Mar '20 - 1:34pm

    I would like to see a daily update from our MPs on the current situation, keeping us members up to date on a rapidly moving situation.
    The current web site is pretty useless, and Leaders do not use LDV.
    So where is the web site to show us, and the world, current Lib Dem thinking. We are an invisible party

  • This is very interesting. However you are asking for a trial. Does this mean the whole country for a fixed time, or a part of the country for a fixed time? If this were to be a policy that we campaign on then I think this is important.
    The basic idea is something I very much support.

  • One likely consequence of the current crisis is that in future companies will, where possible, look to employ technical and digital solutions often at the expense of hiring staff. As a result we will have GDP growth but without the vast majority benefiting through increased income. The obvious way to ensure that all citizens benefit from our greater national prosperity is to have a guaranteed national wage (funded out of taxation).
    UBI will happen at some point in the next 20 years. It will happen as a result of changes in the labour market and the impact on the distribution of income. We can either be the first to embrace it, or the last.

  • Andy Hinton 19th Mar '20 - 5:59pm

    John Roffey: As one of the thousands of people who’ve just been put out of work overnight by government fiat, I’m so glad to hear that just because my landlords won’t be able to evict me in the next 3 months, I’m absolutely fine having my rent arrears rack up so that as soon as the government declares that this is “over” they can evict me then.

  • Paul Barker 19th Mar '20 - 6:06pm

    The immeidiate choice seems to be between bankrupting The State or bankrupting millions of individuals, its a rotten choice but The State doesnt feel pain & the individuals do.
    We should demand that the Government re-imburse all incomes for individuals (below a set level) & small to medium companies where those can work towards a low-carbon future. That excludes makers of Non-electric vehicles & The Airlines.
    The Pound is going to crash anyway & we will join the list of Countries that cant repay debts but that will be a much longer list after all this in any case.

  • John Roffey 19th Mar '20 - 7:20pm

    @ Andy Hinton

    My suggestion was aimed at achieving long-term and significant benefits for the majority – benefits that will not be achieved if the nation becomes bankrupt in the short-term.

  • When every country is printing money, you can do so, period.

  • John Roffey 20th Mar '20 - 7:49am

    From today’s Telegraph: With the economy collapsing, can Britain actually afford to do whatever it takes to defeat this virus?


    “Countries such as Britain, with sizeable current account (or trade) deficits to finance, must rely on foreign investors to balance the books – what Mark Carney called “the kindness of strangers”. Unfortunately, capital markets are not kind; they are amoral, clinical, ruthless and Darwinian in their judgments, and right now their verdict on the UK is not at all good.

    To counteract these negatives, the Bank of England is cranking up the printing press anew, with an additional £200 billion of “quantitative easing” and another emergency rate cut – fire fighting that only partially quells the flames. Monetary policy has now gone about as far as it can; the Government must do the rest, and catastrophically expensive it is going to be too.

    The idea that countries with their own currencies can’t go bust because they can print the money to pay their debts is only partially true. Markets will take it out on the currency, causing inflation to take-off, if they suspect this kind of debt monetisation, with the central bank directly financing the deficit, is going on.”

    Perhaps of most obvious concern is that if the value of sterling falls significantly against the euro and US dollar – will we be able to import the food we need to feed the population? Currently we only produce about 50% of the food we consume.

  • John Roffrey,

    the Telegraph article is an accurate assessment of the economic situation and makes the important point that it is the currency devaluation that effectively reduces living standards by driving up the cost of imported food and other basic commodities while exports of financial and business services are also in decline.
    This happened during the war. First deflation, then rapid inflation and ultimately price, wage and rent controls, nationalisation of strategic industries and rationing.

  • @ Joe Bourrke

    I think you might have missed the point of the article – it about the UK’s weak position relative to other nations.

    I will add the weak position of most of the world compared to China and Russia.

  • Peter Martin 20th Mar '20 - 11:08am

    “can Britain actually afford to do whatever it takes to defeat this virus?”

    Yes. It’s just a question of mobilising the available resources at our disposal.

    The same question would have been asked at the start of WW2. If everyone had listened to the economic mainstream they would have been told that the National Debt was well over 100% of GDP, much higher than it is now incidentally, that there was “no money in the kitty”, and we had no alternative other than to surrender.

    Fortunately we had Keynes who understood this was all nonsense and wrote a short book called “How to pay for the war”. We really need the same type of thinking now.


  • @ Peter Martin

    Yes I agree Peter. I posted the Telegraph article in response to those recommending the introduction of UBI. However, I am sure that the problem of food shortages and others can be overcome by ‘mobilising the available resources at our disposal’ as you say.

    One part of that solution will be individuals growing their own food – if possible. This YouTube video should help anyone thinking of giving this a go.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '20 - 11:49am

    Peter Martin 20th Mar ’20 – 11:08am
    and Donald Trump is running a similar policy.
    Boris (Al) Johnson has said it can all be over in 12 weeks.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '20 - 11:56am

    BBC radio Gardeners’ Question Time has twice said “Take a large cardboard box, lay it on the grass (where it will suppress whatever is growing beneath it) empty the compost heap on top of it (and allow natural activities).
    The panellist did not say whether this process needs warmer, or drier, weather.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '20 - 12:06pm

    Joe Bourke 20th Mar ’20 – 9:44am
    The best imported food may be ignored by early bird customers busily clearing shelves. Sainsburys has had grapefruit, labelled ‘Florida’ I bought three, which I thought was the maximum number allowable, but was told that are exceptions to the policy (although there were no more on the shelf).
    I also bought a mobile ‘phone, in order to join a neighbour’s Instagram group, petrol and free air for tyre pressures.

  • @ Richard Underhill

    I can’t answer your question Richard – but I am fairly sure that weather conditions were mentioned in the video – when starting the vegetable garden.

  • John Littler 21st Mar '20 - 12:43pm

    I would like to know why two of my recent comments were deleted. These were about the party needing to distance itself from the toxic Tory party and general centre right market-isms, if it ever wants to re-build and succeed again.

    The public are not looking for a pale replacement of the Tories on economics and many do want radical change, but not of a Corbyn variety.

    I am a member with a liberal centre left view and did not use bad language or any personal criticisms, so why delete?

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