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Spain brings in basic income scheme to deal with coroanvirus outbreak

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  • The Spanish government will next week approve a basic income programme which will provide a guaranteed income for poorer Spaniards.
  • The scheme’s introduction has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which could trigger the deepest global recession on record.
  • Up to 1 million families will receive the new benefit, which is expected to cost Spain between 3 billion ($3.24 billion) and 3.5 billion euros ($3.78 billion) annually.
  • Spain’s Economy Minister said that, if the scheme proves effective, the government hopes that it ‘stays forever, that it becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument.’
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Spanish government is set to become the first European country to implement a basic income programme which will provide a guaranteed monthly income for poorer Spaniards.

Spain’s social security minister Jose Luis Escriva said on Monday that ministers would approve the programme during a weekly cabinet meeting on May 26, according to Reuters, which cited an interview on RTE radio station.

Escriva said up to 1 million families would receive the new benefit, which is expected to cost between 3 billion ($3.24 billion) and 3.5 billion euros ($3.78 billion) annually.

The amount of money each eligible family receives will be adjusted according to household income as well as a review of total assets, El Pais reported.

Recipients will still be able to receive the payments while they are working, as the scheme is aimed at encouraging recipients to seek employment, rather than deterring job-seeking.

Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calvino has said that, if the scheme proves effective, the government hopes that it “stays forever, that it becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument,” according to Bloomberg.

The Spanish government first floated the idea of “a general mechanism to guarantee earnings for families with no or low income” in December last year, according to El Pais, a Spanish-language daily newspaper.

However, the introduction of the scheme was accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 27,563 deaths in Spain, the fourth-highest death toll in Europe, according to John Hopkins University.

Spain’s introduction of a basic income for the poorest comes as Scotland’s government called for a universal basic income to counter an impending global recession which the Bank of England has warned will be the deepest on record.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said earlier in May that “the time has come” for a Universal Basic Income and the government in Edinburgh has brought forward four pilots of a similar scheme in different council areas.

A universal basic income scheme would see a government pay out monthly stipends to every citizen, regardless of their financial or employment status. The UK government, which opposes such a scheme, would ultimately have to approve it.

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