Sian Berry to kick start careers of a thousand young people with a regular income


Green Party candidate for Mayor of London Sian Berry has pledged to pilot a new Creative Autonomy Allowance (CAA) scheme to widen opportunities and support for young people in London.

The £33 million scheme will see 1,000 young people receive a regular basic income for three years to help them to overcome barriers to creative and arts careers, and starting up in business. The income of around £10,000 a year will be paid monthly and would not be subject to any conditionality after participants have been brought onto the scheme.

Participants would not be selected by application or according to talent, but through a process which allows a legitimate trial to demonstrate the benefits in increasing the life chances and opportunities for cohorts of young people who could benefit. Such a selection process would be devised in consultation with relevant researchers and youth services.

A full evaluation will be set up at the end of the pilot period to assess the economic and social impact on the initial cohort, and the wider benefits in terms of reducing inequality and helping to widen opportunities.

The scheme has roots in a similar enterprise allowance scheme piloted by the Government in 1982 and brought in at a national scale in 1983, meaning that many people who were young in the 1980s were able to support themselves as they developed creative and freelance careers.

This scheme provided around 325,000 people with £40 a week and has since been recognised by a range of successful artists, musicians and entrepreneurs as enabling them to successfully pursue their work. [1]

In 2019-20, unemployment was higher in London across all age groups than the rest of England, and was at 16 percent among 16-24 year olds – making them the group with the highest unemployment rate. [2] The pandemic has had a further impact on youth unemployment, increasing by 3.1 percent nationally over 2020. [3] Sian believes that this scheme will support the life chances of young people affected by the economic impacts of the legacy of austerity, and the coronavirus crisis.

Sian said:

“Young people are paying the price of so many things – the legacy of austerity, the current coronavirus crisis, the climate catastrophe which looms on the horizon. They deserve to be given something back.

“Working with support services and young people, we’ll prove the benefits of giving people a start in life that isn’t based on struggle but on showing faith in their abilities.”

“Greens have a mission to transform London’s economy, and young people must be at the heart of it. Young people have the ideas, they have the potential, they have the ability – they just need the support to get on and do it.”