The concept of the universal basic income isn’t new, it’s been trialled in various different countries at least at far back as 50 years ago. This is where the welfare state establishes a financial safety net which each person has as a baseline, irrespective of their circumstances, with no strings attached. If people are prevented from falling into poverty this raises the floor on where everyone stands. The lack of certainty related to the security of our income can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. Our wellbeing therefore can be correlated to the levels of economic insecurity. Particularly in the current climate, where many people have or will lose their livelihoods.
There is an antidepressant effect from these trials. Some people report of feeling less mental strain, depression and loneliness. If you know that you have a stable income each month, you feel more able to build on your future from that stability. Perhaps you would dare to dream, do something useful and follow your ambitions. The other effects reported were spending more time with family – with less stress it’s possible to truly connect and be present for example, with children. This is has a knock on effect where cases of childhood depression and behavioural problems have dropped by 40 per cent. That is a huge drop; better than any actual pill.
Even receiving a small amount of money has a big effect on our sense of control in our lives. This can trigger a bigger change for the better. The way that we think about our work is changing. However, we can help reduce the despair by the provision of a universal basic income. Particularly for those that are unable to see a future for themselves, not being poor is a start. The universal basic income could give all of us some breathing space, which our wellbeing will benefit. From that, we can rebuild – to make the world more interesting and with greater kindness.