The Rhonda MS has written to the First Minister of Wales to call for a local pilot of a Universal Basic Income (UBI).
Leanne Wood has called for a trial of UBI in the Rhondda to offset a lack of investment and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. She has raised the matter on several occasions in plenary and has written to Ministers in both the Welsh and UK governments about the matter.
UBI is a fixed income that every adult—rich or poor, working or idle—automatically receives from government. People are free to work in addition to receiving the income if they choose.
The scheme has been trialled in a number of places across the world including the US and Finland. The Irish Government is also committed to commencing a pilot in the next few years in its programme of government.
In a letter to the First Minister, Leanne wrote: ‘You will no doubt share my serious concerns about the findings from Professor Atherton who examined the first six months of the pandemic. The stark findings that areas with the highest levels of poverty and deprivation have suffered most is one that needs addressing urgently. Furthermore, statistics show that Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest death rates from Covid-19. The reasons for this have been attributed to poverty and neglect. Clearly the UK Government has a responsibility for that economic neglect over many decades, but so too does the Welsh Government.
‘I have raised many questions over the course of this Senedd about the financial priorities driving the ‘Valleys Taskforce.’ You will remember I have questioned what investments have been made in the Rhondda to combat this long-term neglect and have been frustrated by the lack of job creation. We need jobs and we need investment.
“We need some sort of stimulus to help those small businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf who will have taken a disproportionate hit from more people seeing reductions to their disposable incomes. The argument for a sum of money, non-means tested and provided on a regular basis that people can spend on whatever they choose and for it to be piloted in the Rhondda is strong.
‘The Irish Government is committed to running a UBI pilot in the coming years. This is a model that could be pursued in Wales. Rhondda Cynon Taf would surely make a strong candidate for any area-based pilot. Without something changing, it is people in this area who will suffer yet again, after years of poverty following industrial decline, the highest Covid-19 death rate and the biggest health and economic fallout during the pandemic, as well as the climate emergency in the form of flooding.
‘We all understand this has been exacerbated by more than decade of austerity which has impacted on people in deprived areas more. The neglect here is palpable and must be addressed. The Welsh Government has a responsibility. A UBI pilot in Rhondda Cynon Taf would go some way towards stepping up to that responsibility. Will you do it?’
If you want to help Leanne get elected in this year’s elections for the Senedd, please click this link.