Motion as passed by conference
Mover: Adam Bernard.
Summation: Jane Dodds.
Conference believes that:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- No-one should be left with insufficient income to feed, clothe, and house themselves to an adequate standard.
- Having a secure income is a vital component for allowing people to be able to exercise other freedoms and liberties.
Conference notes that:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Liberal Democrats to campaign for a Universal Basic Income, paid to all long-term UK residents.
- This income to be funded in a socially just and equitable manner to create a fairer social security system for all.
- 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.
- This income to be streamlined and integrated with other necessary income support mechanisms including pensions and student living cost support.
- The Federal Policy Committee to work further on the details of the implementation.
- 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.
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.