Universal basic income and mental health - RSA interim report - RSA

How a universal basic income can address the crisis in anxiety and depression (interim report)


  • Economy
  • Health and wellbeing

New research from the RSA in partnership with a multidisciplinary team led by Matthew Johnson, Professor in Politics at Northumbria University, explores the possible benefits of a universal basic income in the UK.

In the context of the basic income trial in Wales, which will see care leavers receive £1,600 per month, we identify the potential wellbeing impacts of a more universal trial and the financial implications of the policy.

In 2021, the RSA held workshops with young people to understand more about their financial lives, and what impact a UBI might have on their wellbeing. We found that:

  • The current system does not work for young people and they face a trade-off between work, study and leisure.
  • Young people realise how important education is to their future, but their efforts are being undermined by a lack of necessary financial security.
  • Young people support UBI in general and tend to believe a UBI should be paid on top of some existing benefits.

The RSA’s workshops are supported by economic analysis from Landman Economics which finds that a UBI is affordable and has potential as a preventative health strategy. Further, new polling reveals high public support for a UBI, suggesting there is appetite to explore the policy beyond the current trial in Wales.

This report is supported by a foreword from Rt Hon Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, who shares that in Wales the basic income trial will:

Give [young people] choices – they will be able to decide whether they want to undertake education, develop businesses, grow their skills, make plans and decide how they want to experience life as they make the transition to adulthood.

Rt Hon Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales

Read our summary report below.

Download the report (PDF, 1.5 MB)

The full findings will be published in Autumn 2022. In the meantime, visit our UBI project page

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