Universal basic income goes to public vote in Switzerland

'We need a basic income to allow each person to be his or her own entrepreneur, to choose what work he or she does,' says Gabriel Barta of the Basic Income Earth Network

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The Independent Online

Switzerland is preparing to vote on proposals to introduce a universal basic income, which campaigners say would erase poverty and remove dependence on welfare.

The initiative's founders have suggested each adult should receive 2,500 francs (£1784) a month with children receiving 625 francs (£446) a month until they reach 18.

The electorate will be deciding whether to support the principle of the new measure, rather than its immediate implementation, in a non-binding referendum. The vote will take place on 5 June. 

Gabriel Barta of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) told The Local it could take up to ten years to debate, finance and implement the measure.

Mr Barta said universal basic income (UBI) would remove people from the demanding process of having to prove their lack of income to receive benefits.

He said: "These people are not actually being guaranteed a life of dignity in the way the constitution says.

"We need a basic income to allow each person to be his or her own entrepreneur, to choose what work he or she does.

Those opposing the motion have claimed UBI might reinforce the old-fashioned tradition of women staying at home.

Michael Gerfin, an economist at the University of Bern, said: "For those people who are not earning 2,500 francs and they maybe even don’t want to earn more because they are mothers and want to work part time, it’s an incentive to stay at home.

"The question is, is that something our modern society wants or not?"

Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said in February the party will not rule out unconditional pay for all members of society.

The Finnish government are currently considering a two-year pilot programme beginning in 2017 for 10,000 people to receive 550 Euros (£443) each month.

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