Program Day 1

Thursday, September 22, 2016

9:00 – 9:10 Uffe Elbæk Welcome Speech
9:10 – 9:30 Guy Standing Design and Implementation Principles

Globally, basic income has finally moved into the mainstream of political and social policy debate. This reflects in part the relentless growth of inequality and insecurity and the growth of the precariat, leaving mainstream politicians looking out of touch with 21st century trends.

This presentation will briefly outline the arguments for and against a basic income, and draw from that in assessing recent and ongoing pilot basic income schemes. It will emphasise the principles that must be respected and the methods of policy evaluation. It will draw on experience in designing and implementing basic income pilots and on several recent books and papers.

9:30 – 9:50 Olli Kangas The Finnish Basic Income Experiments

The basic income experiment is one of the key projects formulated in the programme of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s centre-to-right Government. The basic income experiment will be carried out in 2017-2018, followed by an assessment of its results in 2019. The basic income experiment is one the measures in which the aim is to reform the Finnish social security system to better correspond to changes in working life, to make social security more participatory and incentive-based, to reduce bureaucracy and simplify the complex benefit system in a manner that would be sustainable from the perspective of general government finances. Partial basic income is the basis in the experiment. Partial basic income would harmonize most of the existing basic social security benefits, while most of the earnings-related benefits would remain unchanged. Under the budget available for the experiment, a total of about 1,500 individuals can take part in the experiment. If, in addition to the funding allocated for the experiment, existing social benefits could also be used in the form of “basic income” , the sample size could be increased up to 8,000 participants that will be selected by a nation-wide random sampling based on date of birth. The presentation will describe the political processes behind the experiment, the process of planning and implementation of the experiment.

9:50 – 10:10 Sjir Hoeijmakers Municipal Basic Income-Related Experiments in the Netherlands: How they started, what they entail, and their current status

What are the reasons that basic income debate has become more widespread in the past two years in the Netherlands, and how did this lead to the current municipal experiments?

This presentation will deal specifically with the political context and the various reasons for the debate and the plans for experiments to develop. It will explain how the municipal experiments relate to basic income but also how most of them are not fully implemented basic income experiments, and why this has come to be.

Finally, it will throw some light on the current status of the Dutch experiments on the practical, political and research level, and about what the next steps may be.

10:10 – 10:30 Debate
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 – 11:20 Bjarke Friborg Usefulness of Trade Unions for the Precarious Workers

With a changing labour market and precarisation on the rise, trade unions need to be inclusive towards freelancers, self-employed and “atypical workers” in general. This implies a multifaceted approach towards collective rights, economic security and new work platforms, focusing on the empowerment of members to take more control over their own lives and notably their job situation. In practice, this could mean a trust-based policy towards unemployed members in a simplified unemployment insurance fund system and a focus on more mutualist arrangements.

11:20 – 11:40 Anne Marie Frederiksen Long-term Unemployed taking the Lead – an Experiment with Self-Management

What would happen if long-term unemployed were allowed to decide for themselves what at least some of the money, that is spent every year to prepare them for the labour market, should be used for?

The municipality of Aarhus has decided to find out and, in collaboration with the Social Development Center and the Velux Foundation, it has initiated a development project which has made it financially possible to give long-term unemployed a cash grant of up to DKK 50,000 (approx. € 6700). The recipient is personally responsible for how and for what the money is spent.

The objective is to make way for a much wider range of options than is possible with traditional welfare benefits and allow the citizen the possibility of self-ownership and -management.

The overall goal is to establish a new culture of dialogue in the occupation-targeted collaboration between citizen and municipality.

At the conference, will be presented the first insights and results from the experiment.

11:40 – 12:00 Debate
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 13:20 Torsten Gejl Future Society calls for Innovative Solutions

Our society is facing great changes within the next decades. Soon, we will be forced to deal with increasing inequality at both the national and the international level. Moreover, widespread automation in many areas of society will inevitably lead to more people being replaced by machines. This is a global fact. 

When jobs are disappearing, we are forced to find new solutions to prevent inequality from exploding. 

In view of this, the Alternative is advocating a basic income, more specifically, welfare benefits without means test and work requirement. Additionally, realizing that both the present and future challenges call for experimentation and innovation, the Alternative will also be supporting experiments with a genuine Unconditional Basic Income (UBI).

13:20 – 13:40  Nicole Teke The Steady Evolution of Basic Income Experiments in France

Since the end of 2015, the idea of a basic income has been steadily gaining ground in France, especially in the political sphere as well as in the media, and might even be a hot topic for the elections of 2017 (presidential and general).

This surge of interest has particularly been driven by two major reports that were handed out to the government: the National Digital Council’s report on job loss due to growing automation and a welfare commission report, the latter leading Prime Minister Manuel Valls to declare himself in favour of the idea of a universal basic income, which may lead to experiments being implemented by 2018.

The presentation will also discuss the experiments that are planned for the Aquitaine region, one, unanimously decided by the Aquitaine Regional Council, and to be launched in June 2017, with levels of basic income around the minimum wage, and another in an eco-village involving a form of local currency.

13:40 – 14:00 Debate
14:00 – 14:30 Coffee Break
14:30 – 14:50 Karl Widerquist Possibilities and Pitfalls of Basic Income Experiments

Many countries are considering running basic income experiments or pilot projects. Interest is so high that it seems likely that there will be several government-run basic income projects within the next few years. This development signals an enormous increase in interest in basic income, and it signals that the interest has reached the highest levels of power. But a basic income experiment can be a mixed blessing for the basic income movement. It can deflect political momentum at a time when it is peaking and put off wider action to a time when the political situation is less favorable. The results can be spun in damaging ways. This presentation discusses some of the promises and some of the problems that could come with the basic income experiments that are likely to take place in the following years. Hopefully, this discussion will provide insights that will help make the most of the experiments.

14:50 – 15:10 Niels I. Meyer The Danish UBI from 1978 and its Relation to Present UBIs

The Danish proposal in 1978 for a Citizen’s Salary (UBI) was focusing on the special needs for selected groups of people like writers, artists, NGO´s  etc. to be released from the traditional obligations of the labor market. In recent years, this goal of the UBI has been extended to include the increasing number of people that are made jobless due to the technological development (robots etc.). The panel contribution will focus on the problems and possible solutions for this change in focus in connection with pilot projects.

15:10 – 15:30 Debate
15:30 – 15:45 The Society Think Tank The Society Think Tank (SamfundsTanken) is a Danish non-political, donation-based think tank, founded on scientific principles and high ethical standards. Its primary methods of analysis are based on thorough and unbiased research coupled with powerful simulation and optimization software.The Society Think Tank’s professional and voluntary researchers with varied backgrounds cover many themes from energy to education.

For the moment, the Society Think Tank is focused on a basic income model called UBInow which has the potential for extreme benefits to all of society. UBInow is a basic income model financed through profit-sharing from companies that are employing UBInow as a means to reducing wages and providing surplus – please see the report.

The Society Think Tank will present a short to-the-point movie about how UBInow can efficiently finance pilot projects and step-by-step implement UBI in Denmark. In addition, there will be an online Q&A session running from the presentation and until the end of the conference.

15:45 – 16:00 GiveDirectly Remote Video Presentation by the organization GiveDirectly

GiveDirectly’s mission, in their own words:

“Traditional ways of giving internationally are complex. At GiveDirectly we’ve created a simpler way: we take money from donors and give it to the poor. We can do this because modern payments technology has drastically cut the costs of sending money directly to the extreme poor, at the same time as new research has shown the powerful effects this has on their lives.

We aim to reshape international giving, making direct transfers to the poor the benchmark against which other, more expensive approaches are evaluated.”

GiveDirectly is currently operating in poor areas of Kenya and Uganda.


16:00 – 16:30 Debate and Closing