Half of UK adults would support universal basic income in principle

New polling commissioned by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath from Ipsos MORI has revealed that there is support on balance among the UK population for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) in general.

Half of UK adults would support universal basic income in principle

The author(s)

  • Stuart Smedley Senior Research Executive
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Half of UK adults would support universal basic income in principle – but support drops if it means benefits are cut or taxes rise

Nearly half of all adults aged 18-75 in the UK (49%) would support the UK Government introducing a universal basic income (UBI) at the level to cover basic needs in principle, while a quarter (26%) would oppose it, according to an Ipsos MORI survey carried out on behalf of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath.

However, support drops if introducing a basic income meant increases in taxes or cuts in welfare benefits spending from their current levels:

  • If it meant an increase in taxes, 30% would support the introduction of a UBI, while 40% would be opposed
  • If it meant cuts in welfare benefits spending, 37% would support its introduction, while 30% would be opposed
  • If it meant both an increase in taxes and cuts in welfare benefits spending 22% would support its introduction, while 47% would be opposed

Regardless of whether they support or oppose the introduction of a basic income, 34% would prefer to mainly fund it through increasing taxes on wealth, while 28% would prefer funding it through cutting existing welfare benefits.

When assessing arguments that have been made in favour of introducing a UBI, the most convincing justification for introducing one was that it would be a way of rewarding and encouraging people doing “very important unpaid work, such as caring or other voluntary work” – 79% found this very or fairly convincing.

Notes to editors

The survey was carried out online by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath. Interviews were conducted among a representative quota sample of 1,111 adults aged 18-75 in the United Kingdom between 4th and 9th August 2017. Data have been weighted by age, gender, region, working status, social grade and highest education level to the known offline population profile.

A Universal Basic Income was described to participants as: “a regular income paid in cash to every individual adult in the UK, regardless of their working status and income from other sources.

In other words, it would be:

  • Universal (i.e. paid to all),
  • Unconditional (i.e. paid without a requirement to work); and
  • Paid to individuals (rather than to a household)”

When asked whether they support or oppose the UK Government introducing a Universal Basic Income they were told to assume that the level “would be set roughly at the amount the UK government judged to be necessary to cover basic needs, e.g. food and clothing (but not housing costs)”.

The author(s)

  • Stuart Smedley Senior Research Executive

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