Jarrow could be model for national basic income scheme to fight cost of living crisis
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The National Lottery-funded Big Central Jarrow is urging residets to have their say on plans for a basic income pilot project in the town.
Basic income is a regular cash payment that everyone would receive without conditions.
If implemented nationally, it would mean that everyone in the UK would receive a monthly or weekly payment with no strings attached, in addition to their other earnings, pensions or benefits.
Supporters of the policy says a basic income would provide working people with more security and top up to benefits that are not high enough to make ends meet.
The Big Local Central Jarrow pilot would provide a group of people in Jarrow with a basic income and collect evidence on how the payments changed their lives, which could then be used to make the case for a universal basic income for the whole of the UK.
Now organisers want to hear from the public on areas such as how much the payments would be, how people would be selected to participate in the pilot and even whether people support the idea at all.
They are hosting resident meetings tomorrow (Wednesday, November 9) and Thursday, November 10, to let people share their views.
Project coordinator Anne Corrigan said: “This is the final year of the Big Local in Jarrow and this work on basic income will be a key part of our legacy.
"A basic income would be a ray of hope for people at this difficult time.
"A pilot in Jarrow would be a step towards a basic income for all in the UK and Jarrow leading the way would be in keeping with our history of pushing for positive change for hardworking, local people.”
Cllr Paul Milburn, who represents Jarrow’s Primrose ward on South Tyneside Council, is backing the pilot scheme.
“I found the whole concept of an unconditional income provided to every resident a very interesting idea,” he said.
"There are many models of this idea, some of which have been trialled in different areas of the world to varying degrees of success.
"The main thrust of this small pilot scheme is to measure and quantify how a regularly received non-means tested financial income to all participants would impact on their lives.
"Many would contest this idea on the basis of how it would be funded, but once consideration is given to the real cost of dealing with mental health concerns driven by poverty and its associated medical issues, some may consider the money better spent dealing with the prevention of the root causes.”
The project steering group includes researchers from the Basic Income Conversation and Northumbria University.
The university’s Professor Matthew Johnson, the research partner for the project, said: “This project is an important opportunity for making the case for basic income and collecting crucial evidence.
"I strongly encourage anyone in the area to come along to the resident meetings to find out more and share their perspective – this is your chance to make a difference for you and your community.”
People who want to attend a resident’s meeting can visit https://actionnetwork.org/forms/focus-groups-a-big-local-basic-income-for-jarrow to sign up and find out more.