The European city planning to give its citizens free money

Politicians have adopted a motion to adopt a pilot scheme

Will Martin
Business Insider
Wednesday 20 April 2016 07:54 BST
Pont Bessières bridge in Lausanne
Pont Bessières bridge in Lausanne (Serge Mercier/Flickr)

Lausanne is joining the growing list of places looking to experiment with a universal basic income.

Politicians in Lausanne have adopted a motion to carry out a pilot scheme for basic income in the city.

Lausanne's city council has taken on a non legally-binding motion for the experiment, passing it by 39 votes to 37 last week, the Basic Income Earth Network reports.

There aren't any concrete details yet about how any pilot scheme would work, other than that it would be similar to the experiment planned in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

It would only include a small sample of Lausanne's population, and require funding from regional and national governments.

Utrecht is set to experiment with a basic income scheme in which its population will be divided into different groups that receive different levels of welfare, including one in the form of an unconditional basic income.

Leonore Porchet, the President of Lausanne's Green Party — a group which heavily advocates the experiment — said: "Basic income offers a solid and securing social floor, as opposed to the fragile social safety net that we know today. The freedom provided by basic income encourages activity, social inclusion and innovation. In addition it values and support the ‘free’ work such as volunteer activities."

The premise of basic income is pretty simple: give people a monthly cash injection to cover living expenses such as food, transport, clothes, and utilities, regardless of their income, social status, or anything else for that matter. No questions asked.

The idea behind universal basic income is that giving everyone the same amount of cash gets rid of overly bureaucratic, complicated welfare states, and makes ensuring all citizens have a decent standard of living much easier.

It has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum, with right-wingers liking the removal of government interference it brings, and those on the left favouring the lifetime safety net for lower income people it provides.

Switzerland will hold a referendum on the introduction of basic income in June, and though the Swiss parliament is opposed to any scheme, citizens could well vote in its favour.

Along with the Swiss referendum, and Utrecht's pilot, Finland's government has also expressed an interest in introducing basic income, and Canadian province Ontario will trial basic income, it was reported in March.

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