View from the street: Universal Basic Income could reshape community

Zaffar Van Kalwala can see a more positive Brent post-Covid.

Zaffar Van Kalwala can see a more positive Brent post-Covid. - Credit: Archant

Steven (a young person in my former Stonebridge ward) has a relative infected with Covid-19.

This has meant that six of his cousins have moved in with him. There are now nine people living in a two-bedroom flat. He worries about his family not having enough money to pay for food and other basic items.

Across the North Circular Road, Sufra foodbank has delivered over 19,000 food parcels since the March lockdown.

Although there’s some good news about a vaccine being developed, the Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted thousands of Brent households will be unemployed in 2021 because of Covid-19.

Brent will need a strong safety net to protect residents from poverty, unemployment and possibly even more viruses in the future.

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Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a mechanism that could ensure everyone is protected. Every person over the age of 16 would receive a regular payment.

It would help residents to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

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Instead of this month’s Spending Review, the government should, as proposed by David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill in 1909, deliver a People’s Budget to tax the super rich to fund new welfare programmes.

There should also be a special tax on companies that have benefited during the pandemic, such as supermarkets, Amazon and Google, to help pay for UBI.

Covid-19 has changed the way we live forever. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime crisis but it’s also an opportunity to reshape our community for everyone to live in a better Brent.

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