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Policy issues concerning Basic Income

Government can, and must honour the commitment in the Programme for Government to pilot a Universal Basic Income in the October Budget.  A fitting way for Government to mark International Basic Income Week would be to honour its own commitment to a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot in Budget 2022.

The Programme for Government committed to the introduction of a universal basic income pilot within the lifetime of the Government. The Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce relied on this commitment when it put forward its proposals for a 3-year universal basic income pilot for workers in the Arts sector. Universal Basic Income is widely defined as an unconditional payment, something lacking in the commitments under the Pathways to Work Strategy 2021-2025 to deliver a basic income guarantee modelled on the Working Family Payment. 

It is possible to implement a Basic Income for artists and art workers.  Social Justice Ireland's latest study shows that the Government could honour its commitment to pilot a Universal Basic Income by introducing a Basic Income for artists as proposed recently by the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce Report.  This initiative would have minimal costs to the Exchequer and could be implemented from 1st January 2022.


A new report on ‘Digital automation and the future of work’ examines the nature, scope and possible effects of digital automation in the EU.  It identifies threats to job quality and an unequal distribution of the risks and benefits associated with digital automation. It also offers some policy options that, if implemented, would help to harness technology for positive economic and social ends. Overall, the report pushes for a new Digital Social Contract and a future of work that works for all.

A study entitled 'Robots, labor markets and universal basic income' published in December 2020 takes an interesting look at the effects of selected labour policies - automation and basic income - have on worker productivity. 

Covid-19 has highlighted things that are profoundly amiss with our Social Contract.  Once the pandemic has been addressed successfully it is crucial that we face up to the radical reforms that are required if we are to deliver a new social contract based on the principles of justice and fairness, with sustainability at its core.

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the central recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce to establish a Pilot Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme with a duration of three years.  A Universal Basic Income pilot scheme for artists is the priamry recommendation of the report 'Life Worth Living'. 

The National Economic Plan - to be published on Budget day - must give equal weight to environmental, social and economic considerations. Otherwise, this Government will simply repeat the mistakes of the past and many will be left behind.  The National Economic Plan must be underpinned by a new social contract that treats our environment, society and economy equally

The current crisis has highlighted serious issues with income inequality, job precarity and low pay.  The Irish Government introduced a COVID-19 unemployment and illness payment of €350 per week and an income subsidy of 70 to 85 per cent for affected businesses to continue to employ staff who cannot work from home but are not at work as part of the “essential services”.

Social Justice Ireland believes that the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Ireland would go a long way to supporting the right of everyone to have a decent income.  But how might it be paid for?  And how could it be implemented?

COVID-19 is causing people to look at how we have structured our society, and reimagine how things could be. Basic Income and Universal Basic Services are complementary policies, essential to ensuring that everyone in society has sufficient income and sufficient access to public services to live life with dignity and experience living standards expected in a first world country.