Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposals are on the rise, with many backing the system as a possible solution to unemployment caused by the rise of AI-equipped machines taking over the workforce.
The system would see governments pay every citizen of a country a base salary to cover costs, including food and rent.
The guaranteed sum would be paid by the state to everyone, regardless of wealth or professional status.
Depending on the details of RUB’s proposal, the funds could be added to existing benefits or put in their place.
Left-wing supporters of the system say it could reduce poverty rates. For those on the right, it is a path to a less bureaucratic welfare system.
The program would likely be funded by an increase in income taxes at all income levels.
To pay every adult and child in the US an annual income of £8,045 ($10,000) a year, the government would likely have to cut most non-health social spending programs and increase the share of GDP collected. in the form of a 10% tax, according to the Economist.
Another suggestion is a negative interest rate, which would take a percentage of each citizen’s bank account each month.
A universal basic income in the UK that would give every adult and child £12,000 ($14,900) a year requires a negative interest rate of 2.5% per month, according to the Center for Welfare Reform.
So if a person were to have £5,000 ($6,600) in their bank account at the start of the month, at the end there would be £4,884 ($6,500) left as £116 ($153) would be taken by the government for a universal basic income pot.
Some have suggested a sliding scale of basic income, so the higher a person’s employment salary, the lower the basic income check they would receive from the government.
Left-leaning French presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, backed by star economist Thomas Piketty, has also made basic income part of his platform.
Finland is the first European country to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional sum.
The two-year pilot scheme, which started on January 1, offers unemployed Finnish citizens aged 25 to 58 a guaranteed sum of €560 (£490/$648) which replaces existing social benefits.
The funds will still be disbursed if they eventually find work.
In Marica, Brazil, a beach town of about 150,000 near Rio de Janeiro, the left-leaning municipal government has spent the past year discovering that universal basic wages work.
In Marica – a surviving stronghold of the Workers’ Party in an increasingly right-wing Brazil – the idea of basic income fits well with the socialist fervor of the leadership.
However, if Finland is making payments of around $590 (£450) a month – and only to a test group of unemployed people for now – the amount to Marica is a paltry 10 reais, or around $3.20 ( £2.40). The new mayor hopes to raise the amount to $32 (£24) in 2017.
Only the city’s 14,000 poorest families currently receive the income, which is denominated in Mumbucas, a virtual currency created to pay welfare under Quaqua three years ago.
The 10 reais are added to the monthly welfare check of 85 reais ($27/£20) for families whose income does not exceed three times the minimum wage. The extra money is also paid to the poorest people between the ages of 14 and 29 and to pregnant women who are already receiving other benefits.
There is another limit: only 131 local businesses – less than 10% of the total – accept payment in Mumbucas, according to the mayor’s office.
The currency, which physically exists only on specially issued red magnetic cards, is unpopular with business owners because they have to wait more than a month after purchases end for the government to convert payments into reals.