Basic income and gainful employment – a contradiction?
The discussion about an unconditional basic income is nothing new. A pilot project in the Netherlands, which commenced on 1 January 2016, is already running. A similar project started at the beginning of this year in Finland. What does the European Commission think of these initiatives?
CO – 01/2017
Since the beginning of 2016, 300 people in Utrecht have been receiving a monthly benefit in the amount of 1000 euros. These are either people who are receiving social benefits or people who are receiving the amount based on an incentive and reward system or people who are simply receiving the money unconditionally. The idea behind this type of benefit is to unleash the creativity needed to implement ideas for getting a job. It will be interesting to see whether the creativity of unemployed persons can actually be increased, or whether monitoring and pressure from the employment office is more likely to encourage people to take up gainful employment.
Since the start of 2017, a group of randomly selected unemployed people aged between 25 and 58 have been receiving a basic income of 560 euros. Other benefits such as housing allowances are continuing to be paid. Every extra euro earned increases the person’s monthly income. Unlike social benefits, additional income is not offset. The aim of the two-year project is to find out whether establishing a basic income encourages a return to the workforce and thus relieves the financial burden on society over the long term.
Since 2014, around 40,000 people in Germany have been financing the basic income of 33 people via a crowdfunding platform.
Basic income as an incentive?
Three approaches which basically all deal with the same issue of how social security and employment are related to one another. Are people willing to work when their subsistence income is already ensured? We will have to wait for the results of the various experiments. Critics argue that an unconditional basic income is unfair. In their opinion, affluent people do not need it and pay it back indirectly via the tax system, at least in Germany. On the other hand, a basic income is probably not enough for the poor to survive on if it is to remain financially sustainable.
What does the EU Commission think?
On 15 December, EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen announced, in relation to a possible European-wide introduction of an unconditional basic income in conjunction with creating a European Pillar of Social Rights, that the EU Commission is following with great interest the pilot projects and international debate concerning basic income.