Universal Basic Income should be 'seriously considered' as a way of helping the economy recover once the coronavirus lockdown has lifted, according to Andy Burnham.
The Greater Manchester mayor (pictured) said it was wrong that people in higher-paid jobs can work from home while essential workers on ‘insecure contracts’ are putting themselves at risk.
This includes the social care sector where more than half of frontline staff – mainly women – are not being paid a real living wage.
Another period of austerity would be ‘devastating’ according to Mr Burnham, who has also called for changes to the working day as the number of people working from home increases.
Hundreds of academics have already called on the government to introduce UBI during the COVID-19 crisis by giving everyone £1,000 a month.
The final results of a UBI trial carried out in Finland found that people were more satisfied with their lives, but the jobs market did not receive the boost that some had hoped for.
But speaking at his weekly coronavirus press conference, Mr Burnham said: “Universal Basic Income is an idea that needs to be seriously considered.
“All people should be paid enough at work so they have a decent amount to live on. If that is true anywhere then it’s got to be true of the care system.
“Fifty-eight percent of care workers are not paid a real living wage, that cannot be right.
“If you’re in an essential role like that you need to be paid enough so that you can manage things at home and be there everyday to support people who need your care.”
Mr Burnham revealed that he has approached the regional chamber of commerce about how the economy will be affected by home working, particularly with firms in city centres.
A staggered start and end to the working day has been suggested to give people more flexible working arrangements.
Greater investment in digital infrastructure would also be needed to support those working from home, said Mr Burnham.
But he said that a ‘serious debate’ about improving living standards would be needed soon as Greater Manchester launches its campaign to ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘reset’ the region once lockdown has been lifted.
“We have made the call about Build Back Better and it relates to living standards, especially for essential workers,” said Mr Burnham.
“I can’t be the only person who feels that it’s wrong that people in higher-paid positions are at home video conferencing when the most low paid people in society, often on very insecure contracts, are out there keeping things running
“In recent times we have overvalued the work at the top and undervalued work at the bottom, and I hope there will be a reassessment of all of this moving forward.”
Keep up to date with all the latest local and national developments here: https://www.