Lewes District Council's Cabinet has passes a resolution calling on the government to launch a pilot of Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the district.UBI is a payment to cover the basic cost of living and is given to all citizens regardless of employment status, wealth or marital status. It is not means-tested.
The resolution, proposed by Councillor Imogen Makepeace, states the council will set up a forum for councillors, local partners and stakeholder groups to raise awareness and understanding of UBI.
On behalf of the council and Lewes district residents, letters will also be written to the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and their counterparts in all opposition political parties in Parliament, outlining the reasons why a pilot should be held here.
Councillor Makepeace said: "We need a new approach as the current benefit system is failing citizens, with Universal Credit causing hardship to many residents in Lewes district..
"This is against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people at risk of facing poverty due to the coronavirus crisis.
"A trial of Universal Basic Income is needed in the district as it has the potential to help address key challenges such as inequality, poverty, precarious employment and loss of community here.
"We are ideally placed for a pilot because of our district's economic and geographic diversity. It is important that the success of such a pilot would need to be measured by health and wellbeing and community benefit alongside economic and employment impacts."
Councillor James MacCleary, Leader of the Council, said: "This is an innovative approach that could be genuinely transformative in empowering individuals and I am happy to write to the government requesting this pilot.
"We should be clear that this in no way whatsoever impacts on council finances."
Councillor Johnny Denis, Cabinet member for Communities and Customers, said: "I would welcome this pilot in our district to demonstrate the functionality of UBI and we could then, working with partners, establish the viability of such a scheme."