Paying people a universal income could improve the health of all people in Wales, a report has said.

The new report published today by Public Health Wales said introducing a basic income scheme in Wales could mean better health and wellbeing outcomes for all.  

The idea of a universal basic income, a form of social security aimed at providing all people with a set amount of regular income, for example £500 a month without means testing, has existed for centuries but never been fully implemented.  

Based on international evidence, key findings of implementing such a scheme identified potential positive effects on people’s health.

These would include increasing income security, reducing child poverty, improvements in housing and a redicution in hospital admissions.  

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However, when schemes were stopped, the positive effects diminished and in some cases wellbeing worsened in comparison to before the scheme was implemented.    

Report author Adam Jones, senior policy officer for Public Health Wales, said: “How well a basic income scheme works would certainly depend on how it’s designed and delivered. 

“How much income it provides, who is eligible for the income, and how long the scheme is designed to last are all crucial factors in determining outcomes. 

“The protection and improvement of Wales’ health is at the heart of everything we do at Public Health Wales. Evidence suggests that members of society would benefit from an income that supports their health and wellbeing and allows them to contribute to society and flourish.  

“A form of basic income is one of the options government can consider to achieve this.

"It is a radical concept that has yet to be adopted formally by any country but parts of Canada and Finland have trialled schemes, with different approaches, with both seeing positive impacts upon health and well-being in the population.

"These included people reporting better mental well-being, with improved satisfaction in their lives, and less mental strain, depression and loneliness. 

"Recipients also noted improvements in income security, educational uptakes, and community participation.  

“However this is based on limited evidence, and there are many areas where there is minimal or no change in outcomes. Basic income as an idea and as a proposal is as multi-faceted and complex as the issues it needs to address.”

Campaigners in Wales have called on the Government to make any basic income pilot as wide ranging as possible, with several local authorities offering themselves as potential locations. 

The Government has committed to a pilot, with further details expected to be announced in the autumn.

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