Wednesday, 15 September 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
51. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 41 of 16 June 2021, the status of the examination by the Low Pay Commission of a universal basic income; if he has received the final report to date; if not, when he expects to receive same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43792/21]
Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCeann Comhairle. My question relates to a universal basic income and I am simply asking what the status is of the report on that that is being carried out by the Low Pay Commission?
As I advised the Deputy in June, there is a commitment in the programme for Government to request the Low Pay Commission to examine universal basic income, UBI, informed by a review of pilots that have happened around the world that would also advise us on how we would carry out UBI pilot here in Ireland during the lifetime of the Government.
The Low Pay Commission is currently examining this issue and has commissioned the ESRI to conduct technical background research on the issues that would arise from the introduction of UBI and how that pilot might be designed for Ireland. The research has been commissioned under the terms of the Low Pay Commission/ESRI Research Partnership Agreement. This partnership delivers high quality research on issues impacting on the national minimum wage and low pay in Ireland.
This background research will inform the Low Pay Commission’s findings on universal basic income and their recommendations for the design of a universal basic income pilot in the lifetime of the Government.
I expect to receive the report of the Low Pay Commission before the end of the year and I will examine its findings and recommendations and publish the report thereafter.
I thank the Minister and that is certainly positive and is in keeping with his previous answer. Can we rely on the fact that the report will be on his desk before the end of the year? What contact has the Minister had with the Department of Deputy Catherine Martin? To save time I will not read out the full title of her Department. It was a recommendation of the task force on arts and culture recovery that it would be a pilot project on universal income.
Rather than duplication, can the Minister clarify what contact he or his Department has had on this?
There has been contact at official and ministerial level and I am happy to clarify this point. As the House will understand, the whole idea and point of a universal basic income is that it is universal. This would be a weekly or monthly payment paid to every adult in the State, whether they are a Bono or a busker, a Deputy or someone experiencing homelessness. What was proposed in the report on the arts was something very different and was a basic income for artists and would not at all be universal. It would be the opposite to universal in being sectoral. We are treating these as separate projects. The Minister, Deputy Martin, is going to lead on a project relating to artists which will be a little bit like a stipend for artists that they will receive whereas we are going to lead on the genuine universal basic income project which would not be sectoral. It would not be men but not women, or people in Louth but not in Cork, or artists but not doctors. The whole point of a universal basic income is that it is universal and any pilot would have to take a random selection of the population to be valid.