Tuesday 2 March 2021 9:59 pm

Tory mayor candidate under fire for saying people would blow Universal Basic Income on 'lots of drugs'

The Conservative candidate for London mayor has come under fire for saying people would blow Universal Basic Income (UBI) on “lots of drugs”.

Liberal Democrats and Greens on the London Assembly have pushed for a trial of the scheme, which would hand all citizens a set sum of money on a regular basis regardless of their financial situation.

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But speaking to the London Assembly’s Economy Committee today, Shaun Bailey said the idea would fall down once the “human condition” is taken into account.

“I’ve been a youth worker for over 20 years. I know some people would absolutely fly if you gave them a lump sum to deal with every week,” he said.

“I know some people who would buy lots of drugs. So where is the care in this, where is the care for the person? How do you get past just universally giving people money?”

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, claimed Bailey had “shown his utter contempt for hard-pressed families”. 

He added: “He has proven once again that he does not share London’s values.

“The only people with problems dealing with ‘lump sums’ are Tory Ministers handing out government contracts to their cronies and spending £30 of taxpayers’ money on food parcels worth a fiver.”

Simon Duffy, founder of the Centre for Welfare Reform think tank, told Bailey it was an “extraordinary claim”.

Speaking in the committee meeting, Duffy said: “I’m sure the people spending most of the money are not the poor – they’re the well-off. It’s your City traders and their cocaine habits. Where’s the love for them?”

It comes as Bailey prepares to face incumbent London mayor Sadiq Khan in fresh leadership elections on 6 May.

Khan has previously expressed his support for UBI, saying last year that it “is gaining support around the world and would ensure everybody can at least survive.”

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A spokesman for Bailey’s campaign said: “Shaun Bailey has over twenty 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.

“Instead of scoring political points, Shaun Bailey is focused on building a city where every resident in every community can thrive — and he’s using his two decades of experience as a youth worker to deliver a fresh start for London.”