Universal basic income

The idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the regular payment of a set amount to everyone, without reference to other income or wealth. The Welsh Government recently committed to a UBI pilot in Wales and other cities around the UK have voiced similar interests in pilots. Labour also proposed pilots in its 2019 manifesto. In this article, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation discusses arguments for UBI in relation to poverty and labour market insecurity as part of their research around the Minimum Income Standard (ie public views on the amount needed for a minimum standard of living in the UK).

It considers concerns that unconditional payments could have a negative impact on employment, as implied by economic modelling. Trials in Finland, the Netherlands and the USA have so far suggested a positive impact on employment, alongside wellbeing advantages; however, the evidence remains limited. The article also discusses the cost and poverty impact of UBI based on either current benefit levels or a higher level of UBI, and discusses different models of how UBI might be funded by income tax.

In summary, the article concludes that some versions of UBI could radically reduce poverty and improve recipient wellbeing. However, it could be disruptive, expensive and require significant tax increases. Both the tax increases and the principle of offering unconditional payments are likely to meet public resistance. Therefore, the article proposes changing the existing system in ways that could achieve many of the goals of UBI, without the associated cost, complexity and disruption.

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The impact of Covid-19 on children starting school

The Education Endowment Foundation is currently researching the impact of Covid-19 on school starters in the academic year 2020/21. The Foundation recently published its interim findings from a survey of 673 parents and 58 schools across England, which focused on their concerns before and after the start of the autumn term. Key findings include:

  • 76% of schools reported that children who started school in autumn 2020 needed more support than children in previous cohorts;
  • 96% of schools were concerned about communication and language development;
  • 91% of schools were concerned about personal, social and emotional development; and
  • 89% of schools were concerned about literacy.

More than half of parents were concerned about their children starting school after lockdown and around a third were particularly concerned about social and emotional development. Only 3% of parents were concerned about language and communication.

However, after the school year started, 96% of parents thought their child had settled in well and 85% of parents did not raise any concerns about how their child was coping.

The authors conclude by drawing attention to socio-emotional wellbeing and language and communication as the main areas of need. They connect the concern about children’s language development to existing research on the topic and to reports by Ofsted indicating that communication and language development were perceived to be weaker than usual in early years foundation stage in the autumn term 2020. They point to the importance of oral language skills for both socio-emotional development and literacy, and recommend that this should be a key focus for education recovery plans.

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 EU settlement scheme deadline

The deadline for the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) is 30 June 2021. This EU Rights and Brexit Hub report draws attention to the key risks this deadline poses for EU/EEA (EEA+) nationals, including the potential loss of access to public services and the right to rent and work. It bases this on analysis of the changing legislation, rules and guidance around EEA+ nationals’ rights post-Brexit, and outlines emergency measures that it believes are needed.

First, the authors highlight the significant minority of EEA+ nationals who will fail to register before the deadline, who would automatically and irreversibly lose their right to reside. Second, they discuss more “proportionate” penalties for missing the deadline and highlight gaps in existing guidance for late applicants. Third, they demonstrate there is no provisional status for individuals who have a ‘good’ reason for a late application or for those who make an in-time application, but experience delays beyond their control meaning it has not been determined by the deadline. Fourth, they discuss the impact of delays in the EUSS, which could deprive EEA+ nationals of a new application and access to benefits. Finally, they draw attention to the inevitable differences in interpretation and application of guidance by decision makers for late applications.

In order to address these areas of concern they propose:

  • a communications strategy to reach those who haven’t applied;
  • creating a coherent, consistent right to apply after the deadline;
  • addressing gaps in the guidance for late applicants;
  • providing for temporary rights to reside;
  • data analysis of waiting times and delays; and
  • training, monitoring and moderating around late application decision making.

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