Labour hopeful backs universal income – from the super rich to those in poverty

Karen Davis, Norwich North Labour candidate in the general election, believes a universal income for

Karen Davis, Norwich North Labour candidate in the general election, believes a universal income for everyone would help stop povertyPicture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk Labour candidate has backed a radical policy to give a universal basic income to everyone – whatever they earn.

Karen Davis, a Norwich City councillor and election hopeful in Norwich North, believes the policy would stop the stigma of claiming benefits and level the playing field for the very poor.

The policy, which has had pilots in Canada and Finland, advocates an amount of money being paid to every eligible citizen to cover their basic living costs regardless of income or employment.

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Ms Davis believes the payment would help solve the issue of hidden poverty.

"The issue with Norwich is that it is a low income, high-rent city," she said. "People are often paying half or more of their income to live here and it is hard for them.

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"We also have a lot of under employment in the city. When employment is measured at two hours a fortnight - that isn't employment in my opinion. There is a huge problem with the gig economy. These people might appear to be in employment but the are working three jobs to keep a roof over their heads.

"I am in favour of a universal basic income. That means people are paid a set level that is enough to live on - from the richest to the poorest. If you are very rich you won't see it because it will go out in taxes.

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"What this would do is level the playing field. It takes the stigma out of benefits. I always say don't call people 'scroungers or blaggers'. No one is criticised for using the NHS or sending their child to a comprehensive school.

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"Let's take people who have to stay at home and care for a loved one. By doing that they are actually saving this country money.

"There is a lot of work to be done around this and I am not sure about the levels. I think it would have to be decided at a local level.

"I think we should look at how the big tech companies could put money into this scheme. They do have a social responsibility."

Earlier this year Labour backed piloting universal basic income schemes in the Midlands and the North. At the time shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "We need a radical alternative and we're going to examine that."

Labour's manifesto is expected to be published on Thursday.

Other candidates standing in Norwich North are: Adrian Holmes (Green Party), David Moreland (UK Independence Party), Chloe Smith (Conservative Party) and Dave Thomas (Liberal Democrats).

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