Finnish UBI trial results map path for Covid-19 recovery: RSA Comment

Press release

UBI must be part of the conversation for the UK's post-Covid recovery

This afternoon, the Finnish government published the final results of their Basic Income experiment in 2017-18, finding:

  • Recipients of basic income were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain, depression, sadness and loneliness than a control group.
  • Basic income had a mild positive effect on employment, particularly in certain groups such as families with children.
  • They also scored better on other measures of wellbeing, reporting a greater feeling of autonomy, financial security, and confidence in the future.

Commenting, Anthony Painter, chief research and impact officer at the RSA, said:

“Wellbeing is a vital measure of economic insecurity. The Finnish Basic Income trials results published today show the importance of getting cash to people now. Even getting a small amount of money has a big effect on people’s agency and sense of control, especially those in real trouble, who this experiment focused on.

The scheme did not have the negative effects on employment; if anything, it was positive – an important rebuke to those who think it would lead to more people being lazy.

“More basic income experiments are needed in the UK. RSA modelling for Scotland’s proposed pilots found an initial basic income of £48 per week would be affordable – largely funded by turning the personal allowance into a cash payment, fiscally progressive for low-and-middle earners, and halve destitution overnight. We need to explore this model being applied across the UK as part of a new social contract for Britain’s recovery after Covid-19 as the furlough scheme is wound down.”


Jamie Cooke, head of RSA Scotland, added:

“RSA Scotland has researched basic income extensively, and we’re delighted that Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government are exploring a basic income. Today's result only reinforce the need for these to go forward. Scotland is developing a record of world-leading policymaking, and rolling out a basic income trial would be another feather in its cap”

“The RSA has previously convened deliberative bodies in Fife on welfare, finding that citizens very much understand the strong link between wellbeing and economic security. The momentum is there – not least in the cross-party support Basic Income has in Holyrood – and we’re keen to keep the discussion going.”





Will Grimond, Media & Communications Officer, RSA, [email protected], 07972 470 135



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.

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