Introducing a universal basic income “could significantly assist” families with children, former Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said.
UBI is the concept that the State would guarantee all citizens a minimum income regardless of their salary.
The idea has been trialled in Finland among the unemployed and the Welsh Government is due to introduce one for care experienced young adults.
In the US state of Alaska, all taxpayers receive an annual payment from the Permanent Fund Dividend which is funded by the state’s lucrative oil industry.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Ms Burton said UBI is an idea worth considering for certain sections of society.
“One of the areas where I think it could actually do very well - particularly if it was scale tested in different parts of the country - would be in relation to child benefit,” she said.
“We have child benefit in our system as a universal payment; we also have specific social welfare payments for child dependent allowances - which are only paid to people who have a social welfare income.
“But if we were to up that so that over time that became a significant but not a means tested payment, I think that that could significantly assist families with children.
“To be honest, it wouldn’t be popular with everybody.”
On the question of whether it would encourage ‘benefit tourism’ from less wealthy parts of the EU, Ms Burton said she was in favour of a strong social welfare system across the bloc.
“The European Union, as a whole, should move to a system where there’s a solid substantial welfare support system,” she said.
“Particularly for older people, for families with children and for people who are carers and people with disabilities.”
Detractors of UBI say it would disincentives work, while advocates argue that it would strengthen the economy by lifting people out of poverty.
“If States invest in ensuring that people have not just a basic income but, for instance, if they’re working, that they have a living rather than a minimum wage,” she argued.
“That basically boosts the economy and… is very good and helpful to the individual”.
Main image: Joan Burton. Picture by: Alamy.com