A village in Switzerland plans to pay residents almost £2,000 a month for doing nothing as an experiment into an unconditional basic income.
Rheinau, on the Rhine river at the border with Germany, hopes to pay participants up to 2,500 Swiss francs (£1,970) a month to ensure they have a guaranteed income whether they work or not.
The village council decided to go ahead with the scheme after more than half of Rheinau’s 1,300 inhabitants signed up to take part, and efforts to secure funding will now begin.
The experiment comes after Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected proposals for a nationwide basic income in a referendum two years ago.
But unlike the national proposals, the Rheinau scheme will not be funded by the taxpayer. Instead the village plans to raise the necessary money through crowdfunding.
The project is the brainchild of Rebecca Panian, a Swiss film-maker who says she was inspired by the rejected national scheme.
“The idea, and the new social system that would go with it, made sense to me,” Ms Panian says on the scheme’s website.
We cannot be tempted by a Universal Basic Income – it would do huge damage to the economy
“And, given the social and economic changes around the world, it seemed sensible at least to test an idea for a new future before dismissing it as nonsense.”
The film-maker said more than 100 villages expressed interest, but she chose Rheinau because she wanted to find a “kind of mini-Switzerland, with a well-mixed population” to test the idea.
“Rheinau is ticking differently and is open to new ideas,” Andreas Jenni, the village mayor, told the project website.
Under the scheme, participants will receive a basic monthly income based on their age, ranging from 625 Swiss francs (£490) for under-18s to 2,500 francs for those aged over 25.
But any money they earn from work or receive from pensions or benefits during the month will be offset against the payment — meaning it guarantees a minimum income rather than supplementing other earnings.
The deadline to sign up to the scheme is September 15 and on Monday 702 of the village’s 1,300 inhabitants had registered.
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