Overcoming the Implementation Challenges of Universal Basic Income

From 'making the case' to questions of implementation

Universal Basic Income (UBI) has gained popularity in recent decades as a possible solution to problems arising from changing labour relationships, technological automation, and increasing economic inequality. Despite considerable advocation, scholarship has largely neglected to identify that such a policy will carry certain implementation challenges that differ from existing social assistance programmes.

Published

2020

Economy

Authors

Daniel J. Mosannef

Adrian Wawreijko

Ella Henderson

Eray Simsek

Kathryn Smyth

Oscar Laguna

Paolo Syling

Sophie Pajewski

Executive Summary

Universal Basic Income (UBI) has gained popularity across the world in recent decades as a possible solution to problems arising from changing labour relationships, technological automation, and increasing economic inequality. Proponents maintain that by providing a secure income guarantee, individuals could retain economic security in such a rapidly changing environment (Young and Mulvale, 2009; Guarino, 2018). Nevertheless, considerations of UBI within academic literature and public discourse have been predominantly centred on the economics, ethics, politics and merits of such a policy, while relatively less has considered issues of practical implementation. That is, UBI advocates have largely failed to recognize that such a policy carries a number of implementation challenges that differ from existing social assistance programmes. Additionally, the efficacy of a UBI programme is threatened if facets of implementation are not taken into account.


Thus, the aim of this report is tobuild on preceding research and policy recommendations developed by the Buchanan Institute with regards to “making the case” of a UBI in the context of the United Kingdom. In doing so, it attempts to shift this discussion - from “making the case” to questions of practical implementation. Our paper will achieve this through highlighting potential hurdles related to the possible implementation of UBI and recommending the best practices of dealing with such challenges, in a UK context. This report applies Jurgen De Wispelaere and Lindsay Stirton’s (2012) framework for the practical bottlenecks of UBI implementation to examinations of historical and contemporary UBI case studies - the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment (Mincome), Finland’s Basic Income Experiment, and The Permanent Fund (Dividend) of Alaska. This paper provides an examination of each programme, listed above, from an implementation perspective.


We specifically focus on overcoming the challenges established within the guiding framework and subsequently identify specific facets of each programme’s structure that should (or should not be) applied when attempting to implement a future UBI. This focus is based entirely on the utility in overcoming such hurdles. Above all, this report recommends that a potential programme of UBI in the context of the United Kingdom must:

  1. Recognize and establish a list of all eligible claimants within the population that discerns between those not entitled.

  2. Design a universal system of payment disbursement.

  3. Establish robust mechanisms of oversight that refrain from invasive individual monitoring.