DOMINIC Raab has rejected calls for a universal basic income, saying the UK Government’s efforts need to be focused on “those that need it most”.

The Foreign Secretary was standing in for Boris Johnson at the first weekly Prime Minister’s Questions since the UK was put into lockdown.

Strict social distancing rules meant there were just a handful of MPs in the chamber – including new Labour leader Keir Starmer – while many others were contributing remotely using video conferencing software.

Former secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell, secured his place in pub quizzes for years to come after he became the first MP unable to ask a question because of a faulty broadband connection.

READ MORE: David Mundell misses PMQs question due to poor connection

The Tory MP was, the Speaker said, “unable to connect”.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster Ian Blackford asked the acting Prime Minister if he supported a universal basic income (UBI).

His question came as 110 MPs and peers signed an open letter calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to introduce regular cash payments for all adults.

There is increasing concern about what happens when the Government’s furlough scheme eventually comes to an end.

The wage-subsidy programme, which involves the Treasury paying 80% of the wages of workers up to a maximum of £2500 per month to prevent them being laid off by their employers, is currently set to end in late June.

In the letter, which has been organised by the Basic Income Conversation, the parliamentarians warns that the UK is “likely to face a damaging recession, as well as ongoing economic insecurity”.

“As we likely exit lockdown in a non-uniform way at an uneven speed, the system simply won’t be able to keep up with people’s individual changes of circumstances. This is why we need to put in place plans for a Recovery Universal Basic Income – a regular cash payment to every individual,” they said.

In his question, Blackford pointed out that it was now five weeks since the Chancellor first announced his package of economic support to assist with the impact of coronavirus.

“And yet, 34 days on, thousands of businesses and individuals have found themselves with no income, with no support, and no end in sight,” he said. “And all because of arbitrary cut-off dates and bureaucratic barriers imposed by this UK Government.”

He called on the Government to “finally protect everyone” and “put cash in people’s pockets”.

This, he added, “will help ensure the strong economic recovery and a fairer society.”

Blackford told the Foreign Secretary that a universal basic income “is a solution that will provide support for anybody and crucially, it will leave no one behind”.

Raab told MPs he didn’t agree. “The Chancellor has, I think, quite rightly adopted and announced a series of measures second to none in the world, to support workers through the job retention scheme to make sure that for those that don’t qualify, other support like increasing Universal Credit and working tax credit credits are able to to deal with the challenge.

“I think we need to have a very focused approach providing the resources that we need to those that need it most.”

According to the Basic Income Conversation’s letter, 84% of the public now support the introduction of a UBI. They call for the payments to “be sufficient to provide economic security for people”.

Last week, Reform Scotland called for a UBI of £5200 a year to help those “caught between the cracks”.

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