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Sheffield Council backs UBI: Councillors vote to support England's first pilot

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Councillors voting to support a pilot of Universal Basic Income at Full Council on 12 June.

Sheffield Council has passed a motion supporting a pilot of Universal Basic Income (UBI), after the Shadow Chancellor said that a future Labour government would test UBI in the city.

The motion states that the Council "believes the Universal Basic Income has the potential to improve wellbeing and provide a boost to our local economy."

UBI would see every citizen given a guaranteed income, regardless of their employment status.

UBI has the potential to be a bold, radical change to how our economy and society works with benefits for peoples wellbeing and how we support people in need

Proponents of the idea, such as US presidential candidate Andrew Yang, believe that it would guarantee minimum living standards and eliminate poverty.

"UBI has the potential to be a bold, radical change to how our economy and society works with benefits for peoples wellbeing and how we support people in need," said Council Leader Julie Dore.

"As automation plays a bigger and bigger role in the workplace this will inevitably lead to huge changes, and in order to face-up to these realities I think it is completely right that radical solutions are considered."

Councillors were asked to back a motion supporting a pilot by UBI Lab Sheffield, a group of activists and researchers exploring the potential of a basic income.

UBI Lab Sheffield is a project supported in part by Opus Independents, who also publish Now Then and co-ordinate the Festival of Debate.

The motion was tabled by Labour councillors Ben Curran and Dawn Dale, and was supported by Labour, Green and UKIP councillors. Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the motion.

We don't know if a Universal Basic Income is the answer to the problems we face, but a pilot will give us the much-needed evidence about what works

"Sheffield has a long history of leading radical change, from the Chartists through to the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire," said Jason Leman, Chair of UBI Lab Sheffield.

"We don't know if a Universal Basic Income is the answer to the problems we face, but a pilot will give us the much-needed evidence about what works."

The cost of any future pilot would be met entirely by an external funder, not by Sheffield Council.

The Council's motion also states that the Council "will work with Sheffield UBI Lab & other parties to ensure Universal Basic Income can be implemented successfully in Sheffield."

Sheffield Council will send a copy of its motion to the Chancellor, the Shadow Chancellor, and to all Sheffield MPs.

The next public meeting of UBI Lab Sheffield is on 3 July, 6:30pm at the Quaker Meeting House.

Sam Gregory

Find out more about UBI Lab Sheffield on their website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

You can watch the debate about UBI at Full Council through Sheffield Council's new webcasting service.

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