#YangGang: Despite Failures in Finland, U.S., British City Wants to Try Universal Basic Income

HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: A man makes his way home through a derelict dockyard on February 13, 2019 in Hull, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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The northern English city of Hull is set to become the first city in the United Kingdom to try to adopt a universal basic income scheme, despite the failure of similar schemes to reduce poverty and joblessness in America and Finland.

In a cross-party proposal from the city council of Hull, England, every adult, no matter what level of income or employment status, would be paid between £50 and £100 a week from the government.

Under the terms of the plan, the payments would replace the existing welfare and disability system, however, those with disabilities and pensioners will be entitled to claim more in government funds to match their current level of subsidisation.

The chief executive of Hull city council, Matt Jukes, will first need to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, for approval before the basic income proposal can be adopted in the city, according to The Guardian.

“Even the Conservative councillors in Hull voted for this motion, saying that they were open-minded about a pilot in the city. We don’t know if UBI is the answer, but there’s a growing consensus between different political parties that we need to test it out”, said Sam Gregory, chair of a UBI lab in Sheffield.

The idea of a universal basic income dates back over 500 years when British philosopher Sir Thomas More floated the notion in his work Utopia, a book that was later praised by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and the Soviet Union leader Vladimir Lenin for its communist-style positions on property rights.

Universal basic income has become popularized recently by Andrew Yang, a Democrat presidential candidate in the United States, who has pledged to give every person in America a monthly sum of $1,000.

Starting in November of 2018, a non-profit charity attempted to implement a Yang-style system giving “20 African American single mothers living in public housing $1,000 each month for a year”. The study found that most of the women “blew” all of the money, failing to make savings, or make meaningful strides up the job ladder.

“Receiving money would not be enough on its own to lift them out of poverty. If they were going to save anything, the women said they would need a little more guidance and support about how to do it”, wrote the Washington Post.

The study mirrored similar results in Finland, where a UBI system failed to encourage citizens to find work. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said that in order to prop up a system nationwide, the Finnish government would need to raise taxes by 30 per cent.

In its review, the OECD also stated that the scheme would actually increase poverty in Finland from 11.4 per cent to 14.1 per cent.

Despite the real-world failures of UBI, the system still remains popular with tech billionaire elites like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who see it as a solution to rising automation.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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