UBI and the self-employed - RSA

UBI and the self-employed

Press release

RSA comment

Commenting on more Conservatives announcing their support for an emergency Basic Income to help the self-employed, Anthony Painter, chief research and impact officer at the RSA, said:

“It is welcome to see many more Conservatives supporting an emergency Basic Income, especially for the self-employed. 

“The current system is complex, means-tested and cumbersome – polling for the RSA indicates that only 16% of workers could live off £94 per week. There is a real risk that in overly designing a means-tested system, HM Treasury will miss many of those on low-and-middle incomes the government wants to help.  

“We can’t afford to miss anyone right now. It’s little wonder that so many are still putting themselves and others at risk on public transport when 47% of self-employed and 51% of those in atypical work such as zero-hour contracts would feel obliged to work when unwell.  

"Our worry is that basing grants on 80% of average earnings over three years will throw up too many anomalies given the changeable nature of year-to-year earnings of this segment of the workforce leaving some with very low incomes short and may prove to be too slow and bureaucratic. However, if the Government does take that route, we would support it on the basis that it is action and that is needed now, as no route is perfect. 

“Under the RSA’s proposals, which contain many of the key elements of a basic income, in the first month they would see a one-off payment of £1,500 plus £450, followed by £450 in months two and three, on top of Universal Credit and housing costs. This would throw a much-needed lifeline to the self-employed suffering right now, with economic security working hand-in-hand with universal healthcare to protect our vital public services.  

"This approach would get money to the self-employed and gig workers fast so they could stop work if they had to. It would benefit more than 80 percent of the lowest earning self-employed now at a level at least as generous as the employment protection scheme that PAYE workers and benefit. All self-employed would receive the emergency Basic Income element. And unlike that scheme they would still be able to work and receive top-up income if they were healthy and able to do so.” 


Read the RSA's proposals and polling on the self-employed and coronavirus here



For a live or pre-record interview, contact: Anthony Painter, [email protected], 0788 444  8721.

For more information, contact: Ash Singleton, [email protected], 07799 737 970.  



The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an independent charity which believes in a world where everyone is able to participate in creating a better future.     

Through our ideas, research and a 30,000 strong Fellowship, we are a global community of proactive problem solvers, sharing powerful ideas, carrying out cutting-edge research and building networks. We create opportunities for people to collaborate, influence, and demonstrate practical solutions to realise change.    

Our work covers a number of areas including the rise of the 'gig economy', robotics & automation; education & creative learning; and reforming public services to put communities in control. 


Be the first to write a comment


Please login to post a comment or reply

Don't have an account? Click here to register.

Related news