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Dutch City to Experiment With Universal Basic Income

Posted on Jun 25, 2015

  The Dutch city of Utrecht. (Japiot / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Dutch city of Utrecht is considering introducing a universal basic income—an income unconditionally granted to all its residents on an individual basis, without a means test or work requirement.

The city has teamed up with a local university to place people on welfare on a living income, to analyze how a system of welfare without requirements will function.

As the Basic Income Earth Network explains, basic income is “a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways: it is paid to individuals rather than households; it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources; and it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.”

The Independent reports:

The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.

The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht’s experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country.

Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt told DeStad Utrecht: “One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules.”

“Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare, but, before we get into all kinds of principled debate about whether we should or should not enter, we need to first examine if basic income even really works.

“What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone [sit] passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?”

The city is also planning to talk to other municipalities about setting up similar experiments, including Nijmegen, Wageningen, Tilburg and Groningen, awaiting permission from The Hague in order to do so.

Read more here.

—Posted by Roisin Davis

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