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Universal Basic Income: Wales to give young care leavers £1600 a month

It’s believed to be the highest amount offered on a scheme of its kind anywhere in the world

The UK government is supposed to be ‘levelling up’, but so far it’s been going more like The Thick Of It, amid a stream of scandals, inflation and a cost of living crisis. However, there is one small bit of good news: all 18-year-olds leaving care in Wales are to be offered the chance to partake in a basic income pilot scheme, which will see them receiving £1,600 a month for up to two years.

Set to launch in the summer, the scheme is believed to be one of the most generous of its kind in the world and will cost the Welsh government up to £20m over three years. Around 500 young people will be eligible. 

While advocates for the Universal Basic Income (UBI) heralded the news, the Welsh government is no longer calling the plans a pilot of UBI, stating it doesn’t capture the "universal" in the same way as the UBI concept promoted by advocates around the world.

The Welsh minister for social justice, Jane Hutt, said the Labour-led government was committed to supporting the most vulnerable and tackling the “scourge of poverty”. Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives described the move as a waste of money, adding that Labour ministers were “not even close to living in reality” with this idea. 

The news has been praised by many campaigners and others on Twitter, with Labour MP Nadia Whittome writing: “This is a huge step towards economic security for young people from care backgrounds. I hope the pilot will be expanded.”

Earlier this year, the Irish government proposed a “once-in-a-generation” scheme to help the country’s creatives thrive in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 2,000 artists, musicians, DJs, actors, and other performers would be entitled to a three-year basic income, its proponents suggested, pending a public consultation.