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Catalonia is giving thousands of people money for free

The region’s Universal Basic Income scheme will see 5,000 participants get up to €800 per month for two whole years

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

Universal basic income, in theory, sounds like an all-round fantastic thing. The idea is that people get paid a certain amount just for living, thereby ensuring a minimum quality of life. All of which sounds pretty dreamy, right? Imagine not having to ever stress or worry about losing your job and source of income.

Well, 5,000 people living in Barcelona, and the surrounding region of Catalonia, won’t have to imagine for much longer. The government of the Spanish autonomous region is soon to embark on one of the largest UBI trials ever. 

The trial in Catalonia will see thousands of participants take part. Adults will get €800 (£685, $800) per month and children will get €300 (£260, $300). Participants will be spread across the entire region, though it’s likely that wealthier residents will be excluded. The test will last for two whole years.

Catalonia certainly ain’t the only place to have trialled UBI. Over 130 places around the world, from Iran and Kenya to Canada and Finland, have seen some kind of basic income trial. Wales launched the UK’s first such trial this summer, giving 500 care-leavers £1,600 a month for two years.

The main difference with the Catalan scheme, according to Catalan News, is that it won’t be tied to employment, education or any other special status. In other words, pretty much anyone is eligible to take part.

What’s so great about UBI? Supporters of the policy would claim that it’s about much more than just free money (though, obvs, that’s a pretty big part of it). Previous trials have suggested that people who’ve received UBI have enjoyed reduced stress and better diets. There’s also been higher rates of school attendance and greater spending in local communities. And UBI is likely to be simpler and less bureaucratic than means-tested social security.

Whatever your take, Catalonia’s trial is set to kick off on January 1, 2023. Watch this space for updates – and, potentially, the free money revolution!

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