It looks like New Zealand will be joining the debate on universal basic income (UBI), as leader Andrew Little just confirmed that his party will be considering the concept.
These considerations are in line with fundamental shifts in how local employees are working and jobs are evolving as a result of automation. Indeed, Little notes the impetus for UBI considerations, stating, “The possibility of higher structural unemployment is actually what’s driving us.”
This announcement comes after the Canadian province of Ontario announced that they are testing out the concept.
In theory, pure universal income will guarantee adults with a fixed, regular income given by the government, regardless of their current income or assets. UBI will then replace all various forms of government welfare, including pensions, benefits and student allowances.
“We expect that in the future world of work there will be at least a portion of the workforce that will rapidly move in and out of work,” Little said. “The question is whether you have an income support system that means every time you stop work you have to go through the palaver of stand-down periods, more bureaucracy, more form filling at the same time as you’re trying to get into your next job.”
According to its proponents, now is the time to talk about whether or not there is a need for a new system that will aid people in and out of employment.
As previously mentioned, technological advances, as well as shifts in personal priorities, are prompting a deeper exploration of what UBI can do for nations, including navigating the evolving nature of work patterns and career opportunities.
“They’re going to move rapidly in and out of multiple jobs over a period of time but there could be some weeks where they get little or no income. But they need a basis on which they can go through the down periods as well as enjoy the up periods.”
Whether or not this pans out remains to be seen, but it seems that significant economic shifts are on their way.