Cash in hand: Could basic income protect livelihoods in coronavirus crisis?

Universal Basic Income (UBI) involves giving citizens cash payments each month to spend however they see fit, often in addition to welfare benefits that tend to be tied to specific needs, such as housing or childcare.

Advocates say its simplicity allows governments to bypass time-consuming bureaucratic processes, while giving beneficiaries the security of knowing they will have some income even if their circumstances change.

Critics argue that UBI could be open to abuse, with cash spent irresponsibly or recipients discouraged from finding work.

But academics behind the Stockton project said that did not happen, with 40% of payments spent on food.

“What the spending data so far really highlights is the real vulnerability of most workers in our economy,” said Amy Castro Baker, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.