Universal basic income – an idea that almost no one had heard of just a few years ago – is now one of the most fashionable concepts in progressive politics. With automation increasing and wages stagnating, the theory is that giving everyone a set amount of money each year will liberate them to do what they want with their lives – and keep them out of poverty.
But some people think universal basic income is a utopian impossibility. Others think it’s dangerous. So there’s a proposal for another solution: universal basic services. Instead of giving people money, why not guarantee all of the public services they need to live a full life?
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith explores the two ideas with Barb Jacobson, Co-ordinator of Basic Income UK, and Anna Coote, New Economics Foundation Principal Fellow.