top of page

UK: Government confirm social credit system to be rolled out on January 2022

This is technocracy falling into place.

Press release:

New pilot to help people eat better and exercise more Pilot scheme will motivate people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle.

  • Points awarded for increasing step count and eating more fruit and veg which can be redeemed for gym passes and discounts at selected shops

  • HeadUp Systems awarded contract to develop a new app with £3 million in government funding made available for rewards

A new app to help people make positive changes to their diet and physical activity will launch next year, the government has announced today.

From January 2022, a pilot will see users wear wrist-worn devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and decreasing portion size.

Users will collect points for these healthy behaviours which will unlock rewards, which could include gym passes, clothes or food vouchers and discounts for shops, cinema or theme park tickets.

Following a competitive tender process, HeadUp has been chosen to deliver the new scheme, with £3 million also coming from the Department of Health and Social Care to provide incentives.

Evidence suggests that financial incentives can improve rates of physical activity and inspire healthier eating so HeadUp will work with a range of organisations to provide rewards such as vouchers, merchandise, discounts and gift cards.

The government is committed to helping people lead healthier, happier lives by making it easier for people to make healthy choices.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

I want to ensure we’re doing as much as we can to tackle health disparities across the country, and this new pilot will pave the way for developing innovative ways to improve the lives of individuals, and also help to reduce strain on the NHS. The Office of Health Improvement and Disparities is driving forward our levelling up agenda for health and ensuring prevention is a vital part of everything we do.

This pilot is an excellent opportunity to find how best to inspire people to make small changes to their daily lives that will have a lasting positive impact on their health. As part of our world-leading healthy weight strategy, the new scheme will be part of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ (OHID) drive to use digital technology to improve physical health and prevent health conditions before they develop. Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion a year and the scale of the challenge has been highlighted by COVID-19 disproportionately affecting people who are overweight. With almost two-thirds of adults in England living with excess weight or obesity the programme will focus on incentives and rewards for healthy behaviours, including increasing physical activity and eating better to support people to live healthier lives.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said:

We are committed to improving the health of people across the country. The HeadUp app pilot will help us better understand how appropriate rewards can motivate people to make positive changes to their diet and physical activity, supporting them to lead healthier lives.

Internationally there are examples of innovative incentives programme showing promising results, such as Singapore’s National Steps Challenge, and the government will work closely with international partners to understand what makes these schemes successful to inform best practices in England.

Sir Keith Mills, who has pioneered reward programmes through Airmiles and Nectar points, is advising the Health Incentives Scheme and will support the government in taking advantage of the very best innovation in the public and private sector. The new app will place user privacy and security at its core and will ensure all personal information is safe and secure at all times.

Sir Keith Mills, Health Incentives Adviser, said:

This scheme is a fantastic opportunity to explore how government, business and the third sector can work together to deliver a new and engaging way of supporting the public to make healthier choices.

Through the pilot we will have exciting and innovative partners on board will help motivate people to want to earn incentives, but also should help them overcome barriers to making healthy decisions in future. I’m looking forward to see how this scheme develops. David Parfitt, Strategy Director at HeadUp, said:

We’re thrilled to be working with OHID to design and deliver a truly innovative initiative to support the future of population health in England.

As an evidence-based, data science company focused on people’s health around the world, we are immensely proud to be working with the government and key stakeholders, people in the community, and with the Behavioural Insights Team as our design and evaluation partner, to play a part in piloting an exciting new approach to the urgent and important challenge of helping people engage with their health and improve their health behaviours. The Health Incentives Scheme was announced as part of a £100 million package of government support to help those living with obesity to move closer towards a healthier weight and give them the tools they need to maintain this.

The pilot will launch in January 2022 and will run for 6 months in a defined location in England to be announced in due course.



Chicago To Launch Huge Universal Basic Income Program

The Chicago City Council is poised to vote this week on what would be one of the nation’s largest basic income programs, giving 5,000 low-income households $500 per month each using federal funding from the pandemic stimulus package enacted this year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has proposed the more than $31 million program as part of her 2022 budget, which the city council is scheduled to consider on Wednesday. The one-year pilot program, funded by the nearly $2 billion Chicago received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, is supported by most of city’s 50 aldermen. But it has received pushback from the 20-member Black Caucus, which has urged Lightfoot to redirect the money to violence prevention programs.

Lightfoot has said the pilot program is motivated by her own childhood memories of hardship while growing up in Ohio. “I knew what it felt like to live check to check. When you’re in need, every bit of income helps,” she wrote in a tweet announcing the plan earlier this month.

Basic income programs have been spreading across the country since Stockton, Calif., started providing monthly stipends with no strings attached to 125 of its residents in 2019. Those stipends resulted in more full-time employment and improved mental and emotional well-being among recipients, according to preliminary findings reported earlier this year by researchers who helped design the program.

Michael Tubbs, who implemented the program as then-mayor of Stockton, noted that recipients’ largest expenditure was food, making up at least a third of spending each month, according to the report. “I had no idea so many people in my area were hungry,” Tubbs said.

Study finds that giving people basic income in this city paid off

Since Stockton’s program launched, about 40 other cities have considered or started on similar efforts to target economic insecurity within their boundaries, according to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, including Denver, Newark, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New Orleans and Compton, Calif. A program in Los Angeles will provide 2,000 residents with a guaranteed income of $1,000 a month for a year.

The surge of interest in basic income has been fueled in part by the influx of money that cities have received from the coronavirus stimulus package and the formation of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, an advocacy coalition that Tubbs founded last year.

Critics worry that guaranteed income programs will discourage people from finding jobs and drain the labor force, a particular concern amid the record job openings in the country this year, said Michael Faulkender, who served as an assistant treasury secretary for economic policy during the Trump administration. Last week, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that 51 percent of small business owners have jobs they cannot fill, more than double the historical average of 22 percent.

“There are still millions of low-skilled jobs out there, and you have small business owners who can’t find workers to join their companies,” said Faulkender, who teaches finance at the University of Maryland. Proposals like the one in Chicago feed the “process of reducing the willingness of people to participate in the workforce,” he said.

Opposition to federal entitlement programs, such as rent vouchers and food stamps, has been waged for decades, but advocates like Tubbs say that today, “the climate has changed.” Economic blows struck by recent natural disasters and the pandemic have proven that “the economy doesn’t work for a vast number of Americans,” he said.

The inequalities in Chicago are particularly stark. A 2019 report by an economic inequality task force created by the mayor’s office found that 500,000 Chicagoans — about 18 percent of the population — are living below or at the poverty level. Nearly half the city’s households do not have a basic safety net to help in emergencies or to prepare for future needs. A quarter of households have more debt than income.

Lightfoot says the effects of the despair can be seen in recent drops in life expectancy among the poorest and the current spike in street violence throughout the city. Harish Patel, executive director of Economic Security For Illinois, an advocacy group that helped coordinate the report, says the pandemic has made the disparities worse.

The 5,000 recipients, who must be adults and make less than $35,000 a year, will be chosen randomly for the program. Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas said the city plans to track the recipients’ expenditures during the first six months and then provide more targeted assistance, such as help with paying heating bills or for food. The costs of supporting the program, he said, “is well worth the investment” when weighed against daily costs of poverty in Chicago, such as gun violence and incarceration.

The Chicago basic income proposal dates back two years when a small group of aldermen led by Villegas proposed a resolution that would have established a $50 million basic income program. The subject is particularly important to Villegas, who considers himself “a product” of similar fiscal assistance. Following the death of his father when Villegas was 8 years old, his mother received $800 in monthly survivor benefits from Social Security until he and his younger brother turned 18. The funds supported child-care costs and gave her the freedom to work just one job, rather than two, so she could be with her sons more often.

“It allowed my mom to work with dignity and gave her the flexibility to work to better the neighborhood,” he said. The siblings later served in the Marines, which Villegas says they considered as payback for the assistance from the federal government. “These are the types of human infrastructure investments we need to take a look at when we talk about investing in infrastructure,” he said of basic income programs.

Polling over many years has largely showed the American public does not support universal basic income. In April, the Pew Research Center survey found a third of Americans say it is “very important” for the United States to provide universal basic income while a fifth said it was “somewhat important.” Forty-five percent said they were against.

But supporters say it is a matter of exposure. Brett Watson, an economics professor at the University of Alaska Institute for Social and Economic Research in Anchorage, noted that in his state, receiving a regular income from the government is already seen as “a birthright.”

Alaska has a nearly 40-year-old Permanent Fund Dividend that guarantees its residents an average of $1,600 in an annual lump payment. The fund consists of offshore oil lease royalties paid to the state.

Unlike many of the new basic income programs, it doesn’t target specific households and requires fewer conditions. The money, Watson said, is not seen as paternalistic or demeaning, unlike how social service benefits like food stamps or rent vouchers are traditionally perceived.

“There’s something appealing to people about the idea that it’s the people, more than the government, who should decide how best to spend the money they are given,” he said of the Alaska basic income model. “For that reason alone, it is attractive on the national scale.”



Los Angeles is launching the US' biggest universal basic income pilot. The scheme will pay $1,000 a month to 3,000 families.

  • Los Angeles is launching a universal-basic income (UBI) pilot program with $1,000 monthly payments.

  • Around 3,000 families will get the money for a year, and there are no rules for how they spend it.

  • A council member said it would be the largest UBI program in the US' history.

Los Angeles is launching a universal-basic income (UBI) pilot program, set to be the biggest in the US so far.

The scheme will give about 3,000 families in poverty $1,000 a month for a year, and there are no rules for how the families spend the money.

To be eligible, applicants need to live in the City of Los Angeles, be at least 18 years old, have an income at or below the federal poverty level, have at least one dependent minor or be pregnant, and have experienced either financial or medical hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal poverty level depends on the size of a household. For a four-person household, a family earning less than $26,500 would fall under the federal poverty line. Poverty affects two out of every 10 residents in the City of Los Angeles - most of them people of color, according to a website for the program.

The program is called the Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot (BIG LEAP).

It has nearly $40 million in funding, South LA Councilman Curren Price said at a City Council meeting Tuesday, where council members approved the program.

Price said that the program would be "the largest guaranteed income economic assistance pilot program in our nation's history," and called it a "life-changing initiative."

The city said that the program would consist of "unconditional, regular, and direct cash payments," with "no restrictions on how the money can be spent." The payments would supplement existing welfare programs, the city said.

The concept of UBI dates back to at least the 16th century, when Spanish-born humanist Juan Luis Vives advocated for a system of unconditional welfare. Since then, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has declared his support for the concept, and it went on to become a cornerstone of Andrew Yang's run in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries

More economists and lawmakers, including a coalition of US mayors, have been calling for the introduction of UBI schemes as the pandemic both exacerbated and exposed huge income inequalities.

"The idea of a guaranteed pilot program is one my office has been following for some time, and it gained momentum as we witnessed our country examine the racial disparities and social injustices during the COVID pandemic," Price said on Tuesday.

Other cities across the US have trialed UBI programs.

Stockton, California, ran a UBI scheme for two years which gave 125 residents $500 per month. After just a year, full-time employment among the participants had increased, and depression and anxiety had decreased, according to the results of the scheme.

Price told the City Council that the "positive results" from the Stockton program made it clear that one in Los Angeles was needed, too.

"It's my hope that following the conclusion of this pilot program, that it'll be replicated at the state and federal level," Price said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had said in his annual "state of the city" address in April that the city was looking at launching a $24 million UBI program to support the city's poor residents.



Some Durham Residents Will Soon Receive a Guaranteed Monthly Income of $500

Durham City Council members have unanimously approved a pilot program that will soon provide more than 100 formerly incarcerated residents with a guaranteed income of $500 a month.

Durham is one of 22 cities across the United States that will participate in the program, which is modeled after one in Stockton, California. The city was awarded a $500,000 grant from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI)—a national advocate of universal basic income—to launch the one-year pilot initiative, which is expected to begin early next year.

As previously reported by the INDY, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel kicked off a city council work session last January by announcing the city was among the cities being considered for the MGI grant.

Having secured the funds, council members during an October 18 meeting authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with two entities, StepUp Durham and Steady, to administer the funds and disburse monthly payments to the city’s guaranteed income participants.

StepUp Durham is a local nonprofit that offers free job training and coaching to employment-seekers. Steady—a mobile app company that allows its users access to part-time, hourly, and on-demand employment opportunities—will serve as the platform to make monthly cash payments to the pilot participants, according to officials.

The city’s guaranteed basic income pilot—also known as “Excel”—will provide $500-a-month payments to 115 randomly selected, formerly incarcerated individuals, according to city officials.

Schewel on Tuesday told the INDY that the one-year pilot program will be funded through the grant as well as $190,000 in private funds along with $110,000 from city coffers.

“We just completed that, which is very exciting,” Schewel said, referring to the city securing $190,000 in private funding.

The mayor said the next step is StepUp Durham’s “completion of intake of interested residents who have returned from incarceration in the last several years.

“That is going very well,” he said. “So I expect funds to start being distributed by early next year.”


bottom of page