Basic income trial for London kicked into long grass – again

I’m disappointed to say that Assembly Members have kicked my call for a trial of basic income for Londoners into the long grass for the second time.

Members on the Economy Committee today back-pedalled on the opportunity to vote on trialling a universal basic income in parts of London.

In November, I brought a motion to the London Assembly calling for support for basic income pilots in the city. In a highly unusual move, the chair of the Assembly’s Economy Committee proposed that the issue be referred for consideration later by the Committee instead of being voted on by the Assembly as a whole.

Today, the Economy Committee heard evidence from guests Daniel Mermelstein from UBI Labs Network, and Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts, and discussed how basic income trials could work if supported by Government and local councils.

The Committee members then held a vote that decided not to vote on the motion but refer it again for further discussion at a future Committee date.

If the motion had passed, the Committee would have recommended on behalf of the Assembly that the Mayor should:

  • write to the government calling for a fully evaluated basic income pilot in the city; and
  • work with local authorities to help test UBI in London.

I am very disappointed that Assembly Members have again decided not to vote on what my motion proposed. We should be leading the way, not putting things off.

With support for a basic income growing fast, the London Assembly should be acting now to explore how it works on the ground, and for London to be part of trials, given the unique challenges Londoners face.

Close to a third of Londoners live in poverty; even before the coronavirus crisis our city had the highest poverty rates in the UK. More people than ever are affected by insecurity and poverty and, as we work on the recovery, we need to look hard at the fundamental flaws that the crisis has exposed in our system.

Right now is when we should be working out the best way to invest in our city, and invest in Londoners, as we build back better.

As Mayor, I will be proud to champion a basic income for London.

Watch my speech to the Assembly today: