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UBI Lab Virtual map shows growing support for UBI

Calls for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to protect livelihoods, reduce poverty and provide a boost to the post-pandemic economy have grown exponentially during the Covid-19 crisis.

UBI survey map with logos

A detail from the map show survey responses and the locations of UBI Labs.

MPs from nine parties signed a Parliamentary motion in March calling for a temporary income floor, while Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in May that the "time had come" for a UBI.

Now a new map has been created showing how political support for this radical idea is mirrored across the UK.

It's been designed by UBI Lab, a network of autonomous groups in Britain and around the world exploring the potential of basic income in their communities.

The map gathers over 20,000 responses to a survey created by UBI Lab, the thinktank Compass and activism platform Organise asking people across the UK what they would do with a basic income.

"Universal Basic Income would give me the freedom to invest my time in interests beyond my paid role," said one respondent.

"I am autistic and would like to invest more time in advocacy roles and supporting autistic young people. I would also like to volunteer more time to my daughter's school and my local community."

UBI is a regular and unconditional payment given to everybody regardless of their income, wealth or employment status. The highest earners would effectively pay their UBI back through tax, helping to fund a basic income for everybody.

Supporters say it would guarantee economic security to all citizens, leading to improvements in physical and mental health, as well as democratic engagement.

Many respondents to the survey expressed a desire to reduce working hours to spend more time volunteering in the community or caring for family members.

"I would be able to reduce the hours I work", reads one submission. "I am a nurse with failing health. As such, I continue to work when ill. UBI would allow me a little more healing time between shifts."

Other responses reveal how workers in precarious employment are often unable to afford the most basic necessities.

"[UBI] just would allow me to get by day by day and allow me to actually eat lunch on my training days which I can't currently do," said one respondent. "I have to hide outside so I don't see others eat lunch because I genuinely can't even afford a sandwich."

The results of the survey reflect the growing consensus that insecurity, poverty and precarity have exacerbated the problems caused by Covid-19 in countries around the world.

"This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage," wrote Pope Francis in an Easter letter to social movements and trade unions.

"It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights."

Some survey respondents said that a UBI would help lift them out of a vicious cycle of debt, which basic income advocate Guy Standing names as one of the "eight giants" of a faltering economy.

"If I had a basic income every month I would finally be able to rid myself of debt and start being able to save money," reasons one anonymous submission.

"I'd be able to take my four children on holidays and I would also finally be able to marry my partner of seven years."

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

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