Liberal Democrats

F8: Universal Basic Income

Motion as passed by conference

13 members

Mover: Adam Bernard.

Summation: Jane Dodds.

Conference believes that:

  1. The process of rebuilding Britain's economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the successful transition to a low-carbon, high-tech economy, will require people to feel empowered to embark on new careers, to undertake new training and learning, and to start new enterprises.
  2. The rapidly changing economy will necessitate a more flexible, more supportive social security infrastructure to allow society to cope with automation and changing patterns in commerce, industry, and other areas of work.
  3. The wide-scale social costs imposed by the pandemic have made a greater scale of universal social support clearly necessary and realistic, beyond what was possible when current Liberal Democrat policy was formed.
  4. In light of the above, a Universal Basic Income will be the best way to provide people with a guarantee of income security and thereby more flexibility and control over their careers and lives.

Conference furthermore believes that:

  1. No-one should be left with insufficient income to feed, clothe, and house themselves to an adequate standard.
  2. Having a secure income is a vital component for allowing people to be able to exercise other freedoms and liberties.

Conference notes that:

  1. Social security cuts, coupled with an extremely arduous claims system, have left a great number of UK households lacking in income security, a problem which is a source both of direct hardship and considerable distress to those facing it.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has, up to the start of June 2020, led to over 600,000 job losses and a drop of almost half in job vacancies.
  3. The Government hastily and inadequately implemented large-scale income support, with many in need 'falling through the cracks' and not receiving essential support in a timely manner; a universal system, were one already in place, could have allowed for a smoother transition to lockdown and provided greater social and economic resilience during the crucial early stages of the crisis.
  4. Liberal Democrat policy has in recent times included living cost support for entrepreneurs and improved financial support for student living costs and lifelong learning, which a Universal Basic Income framework would be a major step towards implementing.
  5. The existence of a Universal Basic Income must be in addition to targeted welfare payments to those who have additional needs - such as for housing, for single parents, or for expenses incurred due to disabilities.
  6. In Finland's recent UBI pilot, those who had received UBI reported better financial wellbeing, stronger mental health and a higher level of confidence. UBI did not deter people from working; indeed, there was a slight tendency for them to be more likely to find work. Manitoba's Minimum Income experiment found similar results.

Conference therefore calls for:

  1. Liberal Democrats to campaign for a Universal Basic Income, paid to all long-term UK residents.
  2. This income to be funded in a socially just and equitable manner to create a fairer social security system for all.
  3. This income to be implemented based on the best available international evidence, rolled out in a phased manner to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of the system.
  4. This income to be streamlined and integrated with other necessary income support mechanisms including pensions and student living cost support.
  5. The Federal Policy Committee to work further on the details of the implementation.
  6. Liberal Democrats to continue to campaign for strong and accessible targeted income support mechanisms, including but not limited to effective housing and disability support payments.

Applicability: Federal.

Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 6.

The deadline for amendments to this motion - see page 8 - and for requests for separate votes - see page 5 - is 13.00, Monday 14 September. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Friday's Conference Daily.

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