William Eichler 26 February 2020

Minimum ‘basic’ income trial reports mixed results

Minimum ‘basic’ income trial reports mixed results  image

A pilot scheme assessing the impact of a minimum ‘basic’ income on poverty and inequality improves well-being but financial insecurities remain.

The Young Foundation has written a report on the pilot in Barcelona which saw the city council provide each household involved with an average of around €500 per month, depending on their previous income.

Some participants were also offered access to a range of social programmes to support employability, social enterprise and community participation.

The Young Foundation studied the experiences of around 200 participating households, across three of the 10 neighbourhoods that were involved in the trial and found that there was no strong evidence a minimum ‘basic’ income provided a route to employment.

However, it learnt that some participants felt they were in a better position to get a job, due to the extra time, resource and ‘mental bandwidth’ for job searching and training/education which the income provided.

The vast majority of participants enjoyed an improved sense of financial and material well-being as a result of the trial, but some still had to make difficult choices on essential outgoings especially when there were fluctuations in the administration of the minimum income.

The minimum income helped alleviate rent concerns and household bills. It also improved the lives of children, and social and community connections.

The report noted that there were elements of the trial that limited its impact. Fluctuations in payments, difficulties accessing the income as cash and the requirement to document all expenditure, undermined benefit to participants.

‘Though the results of the B-MINCOME trial do not offer a ringing endorsement of the idea of a guaranteed minimum income helping to increase the chances of people moving into work, they are hugely valuable.

‘It's clear from the stories that the money had a direct impact on peoples’ sense of wellbeing and helped clear household debts.

‘We’re calling on UK policymakers - and basic income advocates and detractors alike - to pause and pay close attention to the design of future minimum income trials in a way which considers participant experiences as much as trial design.’

The findings have been launched as minimum ‘basic’ income pilots are planned for Sheffield, Leeds and Scotland.

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