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UBI Lab Sheffield: How Do We Get There?

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A new one-day festival exploring the future of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is being launched in Sheffield on 9 March.

'Basic Income: How Do We Get There?' will see activists and researchers from across the UK share their experiences in a series of talks and workshops at the University of Sheffield.

The event is being organised by Sheffield group UBI LAB, who want to see the city host a pilot of UBI.

Now Then asked group chairperson Jason Leman to explain UBI for those unfamiliar with the idea.

"Imagine every week you get a cheque for £120 through the post," he said. "No application forms or proof required. No-one asking how much work you have done or jobs applied for. You get it just for being a citizen. That's basic income."

Some economists believe that the automation of work will make a form of UBI inevitable.

"You could fund it by collecting more taxes from people in well-paid jobs, or you could fund it by sharing out more of the profits that companies make," said Leman. "There's lots of discussion about how it will work, which is one of the reasons UBI LAB Sheffield are launching our detailed pilot proposal at the event."

Many advocates of UBI have argued that a guaranteed and unconditional income for every citizen would instantly end poverty in the UK.

As well as discussing how UBI could be introduced, the event will explore the impact that its introduction would have on people's lives.

"We have the artist Toby Lloyd, who created an installation asking people what they do in their day, and how that day would change if they didn't need to do paid work," said Leman. "That sort of public conversation is essential to making basic income a reality."

"We also have contributors who have achieved political change," he said. "Councillor Patrick Hurley was instrumental in getting Liverpool Council to support the principal of a basic income. Political backing is really important, not least because it determines what kind of basic income you end up with."

For the group, the case for trialling UBI is a moral as well as an economic one. "Our main aim is to create a fairer, kinder, system that recognises everyone has a contribution to make and gives everyone equal support," he said.

Tickets for 'Basic Income: How Do We Get There?' are available through Tickets For Good for £6, or free for those unwaged or on a low income.

Sam Gregory

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