The government could hand out up to £1,000 a month to everyone in the country in an unprecedented response to the coronavirus crisis, it has been claimed. With thousands of workers facing being laid off or unable to earn an income due to restrictions, many are calling for a ‘Universal Basic Income’ to help the most vulnerable.
A group of 500 academics have signed an open letter to the government published in The Independent today.
“It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive,” they wrote.
Daniel Susskind, a fellow in economics at Balliol College, Oxford university, suggests in the Financial Times today that a £1,000 cash payout per person, per month would cost the government about £66bn a month.
He says this is, ‘a fraction of the nearly £500bn bailout the UK needed to stay afloat during the 2008 financial crisis’ adding: “Universal Basic Income is an affordable and feasible response to coronavirus.”
The idea has been trialled in other countries around the world including Finland, Canada and the Netherlands before with mixed success.
Ireland and Denmark are have announced similar schemes in the wake of Covid-19.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £330billion package of measures to help businesses this week
Labour leadership contender Rebecaa Long-Bailey floated the prospect of universal income although she did not specify an amount of money.
The debate comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £330billion package to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic earlier this week.
The announcement on Tuesday at the second of now daily live press conferences delivered by the Prime Minister alongside the government’s top science and medical advisers.
Mr Sunak said the Government will ‘stand behind businesses small and large’ as he announced the package of loans to support businesses amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said: “Today I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15% of our GDP.
Tests to find a vaccine for coronavirus are ongoing (Image: PA)
“That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a Government backed loan or credit on attractive terms.
“And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion I’m making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
“I said whatever it takes, and I meant it.”
Mr Sunak said the Government will provide cash grants of up to £25,000 to smaller businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value less than £51,000.
There will also be support packages for airlines and airports in trouble.
People shopping on Market Street this week (Image: STEVE ALLEN)
Business rates holiday for those with smaller businesses will be extended to all businesses in those sectors irrespective of their rateable value.
Mr Sunak added: “That support will be delivered through two main schemes.
“To support liquidity amongst larger firms I have today agreed a new lending facility with the Governor of the Bank of England to provide low cost, easily accessible commercial paper.
“To support lending to small and medium sized businesses, I am extending the new business interruption loan scheme I announced at Budget last week so that rather than loans of £1.2 million it will now provide loans of up to £5 million with no interest due for the first six months.
“Both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week.”
Mr Sunak added that he is also taking “a new legal power” to “offer whatever further financial support I decide is necessary”.
Boris Johnson has said the Government will do “whatever it takes” to support the economy through the coronavirus outbreak.
» Source » By Steve Robson