Finland Makes Plans for Citizen’s Income
The government of Finland has announced plans to replace means-tested benefits with a universal basic income of 800 Euros to all citizens, a move that could support the effective circulation of income and help create a money system fit for a circular economy.
The proposal, planned by Finnish Social Insurance Institution (KELA) is designed to address the country’s high unemployment levels of 9.53%. This is based on the theory that a citizen’s income for all enables people to take lower-paid jobs without personal cost. It’s a premise backed up by a number of pilots around the world, for example in Uganda, where working hours and earnings increased during a trial in 2013. Furthermore, researchers behind this study noted that the number of artisans and tradespeople increased after they invested in skills, tools and materials, presenting a ‘strong economic case’ for such a plan.
While Finland appear to be the first nation to develop a proposal for the universal basic income, other regions are also working on similar programmes. Switzerland are holding a vote on the subject, and a pilot is also planned in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
A recent poll suggested that the people of Finland are broadly in support of the change, but concerns have been raised over the amount of money provided. Without a means-tested welfare scheme, some citizens who receive benefits could end up worse off.
At a macro level, the universal basic income could be a key lever in developing a money system that enables “effective circulation of income; to bring some more ‘circularity’ and with it more prosperity”, as Ken Webster explored earlier this year on Circulate:
…options designed to bring an increase in income to the poorer segments in society so that they can also spend, but avoiding the extensive bureaucracies of the present day or moralising over the meaning of ‘real work’. These options are also pre-emptive of the structural employment losses but huge gains in productivity which will follow from the ‘second age of machines’- the ongoing ICT revolution. The three choices commonly offered (in declining preference): a citizens’ income, a negative income tax or a minimum ‘living wage’.
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