Wales is on the way to some form of pilot for a universal basic income after the first minister’s commitment earlier this month. What that looks like remains to be seen, however.

Now, for those who have worked to get UBI on the agenda, the hard work continues to ensure the best possible trial is achieved.

UBI Lab Cymru were responsible for pushing three local authorities to pass motions on UBI, with no fewer than 106 Senedd candidates signed up to the pledge prior to May 6.

Now, founder Jonathan Rhys Williams says it is time for the Welsh Government to sit down with organisations like his who have been working on UBI for years.

Mr Williams, a solicitor, told The National: “We are encouraging the Government to work and talk with us.

“It has to be an open discussion and if you are just talking about the Government devising this plan alone, then what good is that? It needs to involve people who are on the ground.”

One such organisation that has done groundwork and is interested in working on a pilot with the Government is Gwynedd council.

READ MORE: UBI: Has the policy's time finally come?

Elin Walker Jones, the councillor who presented the motion on UBI passed by the council in March, told The National:  “Gwynedd is the ideal place to be trialling something like UBI, with a large rural population but also urban areas with urban issues in places like Bangor.

“The next thing we want to do is work with Welsh Gov and UBI Lab Cymru to create a universal pilot scheme.

“The Welsh Government now has to grasp the nettle and run with it.”

For Gwynedd cabinet member Catrin Elen Wager, Gwynedd presents an opportunity for a trial to look at the impact on wider communities.

“Gwynedd is supportive because of the makeup of our population,” said Ms Wager.

"In 2018 our average annual income was £662 lower than Wales’ average, while 21 per cent of people live in fuel poverty.

“We have a situation of haves and have nots with people working in seasonal jobs, working on a minimum wage and they cannot support their families.

“Rural poverty is also a real issue and we have people who cannot afford a taxi to go and buy food, or live miles from their nearest bank branch.

“We also believe we have an opportunity to look at this in terms of things like the impact on the Welsh language, with income the driving factor of people leaving Welsh speaking rural communities to find work.”

The National Wales: Forms of UBI have been tested across the world. Forms of UBI have been tested across the world.

With Cardiff, Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taf joining Gwynedd in expressing an interest in being involved in a pilot, there is plenty of scope for the Welsh Government to look at a broad spectrum of people and communities within any trial.

To date, it appears it is focussing more on including just care leavers in its approach, however.

A spokesperson for Welsh Government told The National: “We have closely followed the progress of pilots around the world with interest and believe there is an opportunity to test a version in Wales.

“We understand the excitement and the interest around this policy. It’s important that we get it right – there is more work to be done in this area but we are interested in developing a version, potentially involving people leaving care.

“That would of course involve careful planning and detailed discussion with relevant stakeholders and experts.

“We have convened a senior team under the oversight of the minister for social justice and scoping work has begun.”

READ MORE: Majority of people in Wales support UBI trial

For Jonathan Williams however, the Welsh Government must use this as an opportunity to be world leading:

“There is a danger that, with it being targeted at care leavers, we only focus on one group that has specific needs.

“If that skews the results, it could either put the idea back years, or it could completely destroy it.

“What we want to see is whether it does increase educational attainment? Whether it does reduce poverty, and what impact it has on employment.

“What you have to look at is the impact it has on communities that are spread out across Wales.

“You need to have a minimum of 5,000 participants spread over a number of geographical areas, preferably led by the Welsh deprivation index, over a three year period.

“You have to look at something substantive in terms of the payment, and I would support something like £100 to £150 a week, removing the means tested element of universal credit but keeping housing benefit and carer’s allowance.

“That equates to around £120 million over the next three years, and compared to covid, that is a drop in the ocean.

“With the mandate the Welsh government has, it has the perfect opportunity to do something like this now. It can be a world leader, and the world is watching."

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