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The Royal Society of Arts in the UK has recommended that the government give every person under 55 £10,000. The recommendation is a version of Universal Basic Income, an issue that people have been debating over the last few years. It would be split into two £5000 payments over two years and the reasoning behind it is that the way people work has changed. Traditional jobs are disappearing and people are frequently turning to other types of work. However, this type of work tends to pay very little and is often unstable.

Everybody would be eligible for the money, no matter their financial or work status. Opponents to the idea have said that UBI costs too much and puts a burden on higher tax payers. They also say that it is a disincentive for people to work.

However, the RSA says that it would help people to focus their skills in areas where they can improve. The RSA estimates the cost of the program to be £14.5bn per year but that half of the cost would be paid for by government savings. They also argue that the benefits to society far outweigh the costs. For example, if someone works in a low paying job they could work less and start a business, go to school or develop other skills. All things that they could only do with the security of having the assistance.

Finland is part way through a UBI trial, it is one of the first countries to conduct such a trial. They started paying a group of 2000 unemployed people €560 every month. The people get the money even if they find a job and the trial still has a year left to run.

Politicians and activists in many countries have been proposing various forms of UBI. The general belief behind UBI is that people should not have to worry about the basic necessities of rent, bills and food. Something which is becoming an increasing problem in many areas of the world as living costs far surpass wages.

The results of the test in Finland are being watched very closely. The results in Finland will likely decide how other countries pursue or abandon the idea in the future.

Difficult words

Universal Basic Income: Money received by every citizen of a country, regardless of wealth or job status.

Debate: A discussion between people or groups with opposing views.

Eligible: To meet the requirements for something.

Disincentive: Something, usually relating to money, that discourages certain action.

Outweigh: Greater than.

Trial: A test of something to see how it works.

Propose: To put forward a plan

Necessity: Required. Food is a necessity for people to live.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: 

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Debate A. Allowed
2. Eligible B. Be greater than
3.  Disincentive C. Suggest
4.  Outweigh D. Essential
5. Trial E. Deterrent
6. Propose F. Argue
7. Necessity G. Test

True or False?

1. The RSA has suggested that the government give every person over 55 £10,000. T / F

2.  The £10,000 would be given in one lump sum. T / F

3.  Traditional jobs are not as common anymore. T / F

4.  Opponents argue the £10,000 could be an incentive to work. T / F

5.  Finland is being closely watched by other countries. T / F

6. The £10,000 plan will be implemented next year. T / F

7. Anybody would be eligible for the £10,000. T / F

8. Basic necessities are becoming harder to pay for. T / F

9. There are different forms to Universal Basic Income. T / F

10. People would get Universal Basic Income no matter their work situation. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. is / UBI / through / Finland / a / part / way / trial

2. is / type / very / unstable / work / little / pay / of / to / tends / However, / often / this / and

3. far / benefits / the / to / society / the / also / They / that / argue / outweigh / costs

4. the / being / very / Finland / test / closely / The / in / are / of / results / watched

5. two / years / split / over / payments / two / It / be / £5000 / would / into

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: 

American English: 

Unemployed Surpass Eligible
Benefits Traditional Version
Activists Various Argue

The Royal Society of Arts in the UK has recommended that the government give every person under 55 £10,000. The recommendation is a ____________ of Universal Basic Income, an issue that people have been debating over the last few years. It would be split into two £5000 payments over two years and the reasoning behind it is that the way people work has changed. ___________ jobs are disappearing and people are frequently turning to other types of work. However, this type of work tends to pay very little and is often unstable.

Everybody would be ___________ for the money, no matter their financial or work status. Opponents to the idea have said that UBI costs too much and puts a burden on higher tax payers. They also say that it is a disincentive for people to work.

However, the RSA says that it would help people to focus their skills in areas where they can improve. The RSA estimates the cost of the program to be £14.5bn per year but that half of the cost would be paid for by government savings. They also ________ that the ___________ to society far outweigh the costs. For example, if someone works in a low paying job they could work less and start a business, go to school or develop other skills. All things that they could only do with the security of having the assistance.

Finland is part way though a UBI trial, it is one of the first countries to conduct such a trial. They started paying a group of 2000 _____________ people €560 every month. The people get the money even if they find a job and the trial still has a year left to run.

Politicians and ___________ in many countries have been proposing ___________ forms of UBI. The general belief behind UBI is that people should not have to worry about the basic necessities of rent, bills and food. Something which is becoming an increasing problem in many areas of the world as living costs far ___________ wages.

The results of the test in Finland are being watched very closely. The results in Finland will likely decide how other countries pursue or abandon the idea in the future.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of the idea for a Universal Basic Income?
4. Would a Universal Basic Income work in your country?
5. What do you think is a good alternative to a Universal Basic Income?
6. What can be done to increase wages for workers?
7. Is there a problem with the rising cost of living in your country?
8. What is the minimum wage in your country?
9. How much does it cost for the basic necessities in your country?
10. Do you think the trial in Finland will be a success?
11. Do you agree that a Universal Basic Income would make people not want to work?
12. What would you do if you received a UBI that covered your basic expenses?
13. Should non-citizens also receive a UBI if a country offered it?
14. How big of a threat is AI to jobs?
15. What types of jobs do you think will be created in the near future?
16. Is the “gig economy” good or bad for workers?
17. What do you think about working for Uber?
18. Is the “gig economy” popular in your country?
19. Why are traditional jobs less attractive to young people?
20. If you could do anything as a job and not have to worry about the money, what would you do?