The presidents or representatives of 18 departments in France came together in Paris to present a proposal to enable basic income in the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ardeche, Ariège, Aude, Dordogne, Finistere, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Herault, Ille-et-Vilaine, Landes, Loire-Atlantique, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne , Meurthe-et-Moselle, Nièvre and Seine-Saint-Denis.

Against poverty we have not tried everything.

This message was sent on October 17 to the National Assembly. Among them, 13 departments worked for one year to define the contours of basic income with the support of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation and two recognized laboratories: Centre de recherche économique et ses applications (CEPREMAP) and l’Institut des Politiques Publiques (IPP).

It is no coincidence the presentation was made on October 17th, the international Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The primary objective of the experiment that these elected officials want to implement in their territories is to observe the relevance and effectiveness of basic income in their fight against poverty.

A basic income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement. Basic income has the following five characteristics:

  • Periodic: it is paid at regular intervals (for example every month), not as a one-off grant.
  • Cash payment: it is paid in an appropriate medium of exchange, allowing those who receive it to decide what they spend it on. It is not, therefore, paid either in kind (such as food or services) or in vouchers dedicated to a specific use.
  • Individual: it is paid on an individual basis—and not, for instance, to households.
  • Universal: it is paid to all, without means test.
  • Unconditional: it is paid without a requirement to work or to demonstrate willingness-to-work.

A wide variety of basic income proposals are circulating worldwide. They differ along many other dimensions, including the amounts of the basic income, the source of funding, the nature and size of reductions in other transfers that might accompany it, and so on. BIEN is a charitable organization dedicated to taking an educational role.

This announcement by the French departments follows just weeks after the basic income endorsement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres.

View our conversation with Bela Hatvany, Sarath Davala and Guy Standing on why we need basic income.

The departments come forward with a proposal to actually authorize the experiment. Co-signed by the leaders of the 18 departments, it includes an explanatory memorandum and 10 articles which specify the financing, the territorial scale and the persons concerned by the experimentation.