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Support for a basic income grows across the north: New network set up to explore radical welfare alternative

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A UBI Lab Sheffield conference earlier this year.

Support for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is growing across the north of England, and campaigners have now formed a regional network to support the movement.

Founding members of Basic Income North include UBI Lab groups in Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Kirklees.

The new network has also received the backing of Shadow Treasury minister Jonathan Reynolds MP.

"There is a lively discussion taking place about basic income around the world," said Reynolds.

Most children in poverty live in a family with at least one working adult

"There is definitely an appetite for that here in the north of England, where many areas have experienced de-industrialisation, insecurity and increased deprivation."

A basic income is a regular payment from the state to everyone, regardless of their income or employment status.

Proposals for a basic income range from £50 per week for every adult to over £100 per week for every adult and child.

Supporters believe that a UBI would guarantee every citizen the right to basic financial security.

"We live in a country where 55% of people in poverty are also in work," said Councillor Erin Hill, founder of UBI Lab Kirklees.

"Most children in poverty live in a family with at least one working adult. Many people using foodbanks are also working."

She continued: "This level of poverty and insecurity comes at a huge cost for our economy, society, families and their communities and a basic income would help to address this."

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 basic income is an idea whose time has come

Basic Income North also includes think tanks such as the RSA and the Centre for Welfare Reform, based in Sheffield.

In June, Sheffield City Council passed a motion calling for a basic income pilot in the city.

Two months earlier, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told The Mirror that a Labour government would pilot basic income in Sheffield, Liverpool and the Midlands.

Campaigners in other cities and towns across the north, such as members of the UBI Lab network, want their local areas to be considered as well.

A basic income trial in Finland showed improved mental health for participants. People in the study did not work less than those in a control group not receiving a basic income.

The radical idea has received support from several northern MPs including Reynolds, Thelma Walker and former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The new network will allow northern groups and activists to share resources and lobby politicians on a national level.

"The basic income is an idea whose time has come," said Councillor Patrick Hurley of UBI Lab Liverpool.

"Paying a wealth dividend to each citizen in order to help them make the best of their lives could be transformational for our country."

Sam Gregory

Follow Basic Income North on Twitter and Facebook.

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