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Brown secures first local Council backing for universal basic income

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has backed an Alliance motion calling for a universal basic income (UBI), the first Council in Northern Ireland to do so.

The motion by Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown calls on the Departments of Communities and Finance, alongside the UK Treasury, to design and deliver a UBI for Northern Ireland as a response to the economic impact of the pandemic.

It was seconded by the SDLP and backed by the UUP, with the DUP abstaining and Sinn Féin voting against, at the Council’s Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee. Councillor Brown said there was a need to provide economic security while protecting livelihoods and kickstarting the economy.

“A UBI is a fixed regular amount paid to every resident in an area regardless of their circumstances. It would replace the vast majority of means-tested benefits and would provide everyone with a basic level of financial security to fall back on, lifting many out of poverty.

“Councils are a vital starting point for conversations and UBI is an important one – many consider it to be this generation’s NHS. Our district could now play host to a local trial UBI in the future, should funding become available from the Treasury. The post-COVID world gives us an opportunity to build back better and look at how we can redesign the social and economic contract in a way that works for all.

“I am pleased NMD Council backed this motion, becoming the first in Northern Ireland to do so and joining many in England and Scotland. I thank those Councils and parties who backed it, while being disappointed in Sinn Féin, who voted against this progressive and egalitarian policy which would redistribute income, and put more money into the pockets of the poor and vulnerable in society.”