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‘Basic income’ trials planned for 11 areas

Eleven departments in different areas of France hope to begin a form of ‘universal basic income’ for locals – including newcomers – in the next few years.

‘Universal basic income’ (UBI) involves everyone receiving a sum deemed enough to cover es­sential needs.

It was a manifesto promise of Socialist presidential candidate Benoît Hamon last May – now a group of Socialist departmental council leaders have proposed a revised version. It comes after Presi­dent Macron said he favours local trials of new ideas.

The departments are: Gir­onde, Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Ardèche (Rhône-Alpes), Aude, Ariège, Gers, Haute-Garonne (Occitanie), Ille-et-Vilaine (Brittany), Seine-Saint-Denis (Ile-de-France), Meurthe-et-Moselle (Grand Est).

Department president Henri Nayrou of Ariège (Occitanie) said their revenu de base would not be fully ‘universal’ but limited to those on low incomes.

It would aim to replace current income support schemes, such as RSA and Aspa, which, he said, failed to get people out of the benefit trap.

“Now, for example, a young person may receive €550/month of RSA and maybe also housing benefit and child benefits as well as other social welfare grants.

“It would be better to combine it all into one revenu de base. Then if that person finds some work he or she gains the benefit from that – and the state gets social charges – but they keep their basic income.”

Mr Nayrou said the aim was to improve on RSA benefit. “When it came in RSA was supposed to be more dynamic, more able to give hope of getting out of poverty than its predecesor but it didn’t work [most recipients stay on benefits].

“The basic income would encourage people to find a job, be useful and find balance in their life – and earn a bit more, rather than staying on the sofa.

“The day might come when computers will remove millions of jobs, and make this necessary but we’re not there yet. It may even be too early yet for this.”

The department presidents intend to pay for political analysts IPP to do simulations with a report by June. They hope then to make proposals to parliament to allow trials to begin in 2019.

Details of how the trials would be run are yet to be worked out but Mr Nayrou said the aim would be for the test to apply to people across the department, so Connexion readers with low incomes may be included in it.

Meanwhile an association has decided to run its own crowdfunded trial, not waiting for an official scheme. In an initial test MonRevenuDeBase will pay three participants picked at random €1,000/month for a year. It is possible to sign up for a chance to be picked in a future round at monrevenudebase.fr

  • It comes as the government is reportedly considering options for implementing one of President Macron’s campaign promises – unemployment benefit for the self-employed.

Les Echos newspaper claims the scheme which favours only those declared bankrupt, with a fixed amount of €7-800/month, payable for six months to a year.

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