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GMB union supports unconditional basic income to 'help eradicate poverty'

Published 06/06/2016

The GMB union said an unconditional basic income could help eradicate poverty
The GMB union said an unconditional basic income could help eradicate poverty

A leading union has backed campaigns for an unconditional basic income, saying it could help wipe out poverty.

The GMB became the first big trade union to support the idea and will now press the Labour Party to consider making it a policy.

The union's annual conference in Bournemouth voted in favour of lobbying for a basic income benefit for everyone.

The motion passed by the GMB said that an unconditional basic income could effectively eradicate the worst levels of poverty.

Voters in Switzerland rejected a similar proposal by 78% on Sunday, but GMB officials said they believed the idea should now be seriously discussed in the UK.

National organiser Martin Smith said under-employment was likely to become a bigger problem than unemployment in future years, so it was vital to look at new ways of making work pay.

"A basic minimum income would replace benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and would mean the state would stop subsidising employers," he said.

"This idea seemed bonkers a few years ago but is time we seriously looked at this now."

Delegate Nikki Dancey said: "The fact that 22% of people in Switzerland support this, without the backing of any political party, shows it is becoming popular.

"We should start by lobbying for a £10-an-hour living wage. Very soon we could be looking at a society where there will not be enough work for everyone because of technology and digitisation, so people will need help having a basic income."

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