Greens to unveil plans for universal basic income in manifesto launch

Greens to unveil plans for universal basic income in manifesto launch
The Guardian, by Rowena Mason

People could get a universal basic income and a shorter working week under plans proposed by the Green party on Monday.

Launching the manifesto, Caroline Lucas, the party’s co-leader, said the proposals were “big, bold ideas to create a confident and caring country we can all be proud of”.

The party’s flagship pledges, called their “green guarantee”, would reverse the privatisation of the NHS and fill the funding gap in the health service, paid for partly by scrapping the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

It would also promise another referendum when Britain strikes its Brexit deal and guarantee EU citizens rights.

But its most radical proposals are a promise to work towards the introduction of a universal basic income – a flat rate paid to everyone whether or not they are in work.

A universal basic income is regarded by some on the left as a response to the robotisation of the workforce, which it is feared could replace lower-skilled jobs and exacerbate inequality

The Greens said the proposal would initially take the form of a government-sponsored pilot scheme and the phasing in a of a shorter working week.

Their programme amounts to an attempt to outflank Labour on the left, promising policies that have been explored by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell that did not end up in their manifesto.

McDonnell has expressed an interest in a universal basic income but it was not contained in Labour’s manifesto. Corbyn is also opposed to renewing Trident but the party is officially committed to the nuclear deterrent.

And with Labour having promised to scrap university tuition fees if elected, the Greens last week went one step further, with a pledge to write off all existing student loan debts, at a cost of more than £14bn over the next parliament.

Lucas, who is seeking re-election in Brighton Pavilion as the UK’s only Green MP, said the manifest was about “protecting our environment for our children and grandchildren [and] saving our NHS from crisis and ridding it of private sector profiteering”.

She added: “It means giving people a proper say on the Brexit deal, not shutting them out of the process. And it means exploring changes to our economy to make it fairer and fit for the future.”

Jonathan Bartley, who shares the leadership with Lucas, added: “By voting Green on 8 June, people can elect MPs who will always fight their corner, and push for the major changes we need to make this country a world leader, rather than the little Britain envisioned by the Tories.


“We are unapologetic in fighting to remain close to Europe, and in defending free movement as a wonderful gift to my generation that is being robbed from the next. We will always defend our public services, stand up for our NHS and push for bold changes so our economy delivers on fairness and on pioneering new technology.