Boris Johnson ‘will certainly consider’ emergency universal income scheme

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has said he would consider the introduction of an emergency universal income scheme to help those workers affected by coronavirus.

Johnson said introducing a universal basic income to aid financially hit workers 'will certainly be considered' and agreed to hold talks with supporters of the proposed scheme.

The prime minister's comments came after being urged by both the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford and a Labour MP to provide workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak with 'an income guarantee'.

Blackford said: 'Thousands of people are already losing their jobs, it's happening today. Millions will face the same threat. They need reassurance and support, and they need it today. They need an income guarantee.

'We must not repeat history. People are worried about their bills, they are worried about keeping a roof over their head.

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'In the last financial crisis, the banks were bailed out but ordinary people were not. Prime minister, you have it within your power to protect people's incomes and provide them with peace of mind.'

Johnson agreed to hold talks with supporters of the universal income scheme, adding: 'I agree profoundly with what he said about not repeating history.

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'It is very important that as we ask the public to do the right thing for themselves and everybody else, that no-one - whatever their income - should be penalised for doing the right thing, and we will make sure that that is the case.'

Labour's Kevin Brennan said: 'On the matter of whatever it takes, it takes more than three-word slogans is what I would say to the prime minister.'

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He added: 'We need to get money into the pockets of the workers.

'Has he seen EDM (Early Day Motion) 302 which I've proposed about bringing in a temporary universal basic income to support workers and get money where it is actually needed?'

Johnson replied: 'I hear the honourable gentleman loud and clear and he's echoing the point that was already made by the leader of the SNP (Mr Blackford).

'And of course that is one of the ideas that will certainly be considered.'

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