In Brief

Finland turns away from universal basic income

Government will not expand scheme that gives unconditional monthly payments instead of means-tested benefits

The Finnish government has decided against expanding a universal basic income trial which has been widely touted as a global test case for the scheme.

As part of the pilot, 2,000 unemployed Finns chosen at random received an unconditional flat monthly payment of €560 (£490). While the results of the trial will not be published until next year, the test has “has drawn much international interest”, says the BBC.

However, the government has announced it will not extend the scheme and will instead examine other alternatives to reform Finland’s bloated and complex social security system.

Universal Basic Income has attracted significant support among economists as a way to radically overhaul the benefits system for the 21st century.

Supporters argue it would help unemployed people into temporary work by providing a guaranteed safety net between jobs as well as addressing insecurities associated with the so-called ‘gig economy’, boosting mobility in the labour market and helping more people out of poverty.

Yet basic income has also met fierce opposition from some politicians who argue it will dramatically increase the welfare budget and lead to a culture of laziness.

A study released earlier this year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found income tax would have to increase by nearly 30% to fund a basic income and argued that a universal credit system, similar to the one being introduced by the UK, would cut Finland’s poverty rate more effectively.

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