Shaun Bailey: Tory mayoral candidate says universal income would be used for drugs

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image captionShaun Bailey is the Conservative candidate for the 6 May London mayoral election

London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has been criticised for claiming people "would buy lots of drugs" if they were given a universal basic income (UBI).

Mr Bailey, a member of the Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives, made his comments during a debate about piloting the system in the capital.

He said he had concerns about how "the human condition" was being overlooked by supporters of a UBI.

Critics called his claims "extraordinary" and "shocking".

Mr Bailey, a former youth worker, told the GLA's economy committee at City Hall: "I know some people who would absolutely fly if you gave them a lump sum every week. I know some people that would buy lots of drugs.

He added: "So where is the care for the person? How do you get past just universally giving people money?"

LONDON'S ELECTION: THE BASICS

What's happening: On 6 May people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 25 members of the London Assembly. Together, they make up the Greater London Authority (GLA), which governs the capital - you can register to vote here.

What difference does it make? The mayor has a £19bn budget and is responsible for Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, and has a role in housing, planning and the environment. The London Assembly holds the mayor to account by examining their policies. Find out more here.

Who is standing? London's current mayor, Labour's Sadiq Khan, is seeking re-election and his main challenger is Conservative Shaun Bailey, but there are 18 others running.

Simon Duffy, director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, said Mr Bailey's comment that some Londoners would use the money for drugs was "an extraordinary claim" and "quite shocking".

Mr Duffy told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "There is a myth that ordinary people don't know how to spend money. It's not just false, it's clearly unproven."

The committee voted in favour of trialling a UBI in London, although it will be up to individual boroughs to host the scheme, with Richmond and Islington having already indicated an interest in doing so.

image copyrightPA
image captionA Universal Basic Income scheme would pay everyone a set income, regardless of their means or work status

Lib Dem Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, said she was "delighted" that the motion had passed.

"If a UBI had been in place before Covid-19 it would have provided automatic essential income top-ups for those who really needed it" she added.

A spokesperson for Bailey's campaign said: "Shaun Bailey has over 20 years of experience as a youth worker.

"He's been homeless and he's been out of work. So Shaun won't take any lectures from career politicians on what life is like for those struggling to get on".

The London mayoral and London Assembly elections take place on 6 May.

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