The Barcelona district of Besós has been picked to test a €13 million European Union funded pilot scheme investigating “innovative and creative solutions” to urban poverty.
The Catalan capital has been chosen alongside Utrecht in the Netherlands and the Finnish city of Helsinki to test the scheme, which will see the poorest residents in each chosen district given grants for two years to lift them above the breadline.
In the B-Mincome experiment, 1,000 randomly selected low-income households in the Besós district will be given grants of between 400 and 525 euros a month for two years.
Those taking part will be divided into four distinct groups and given the grants in different forms as a way of analysing the ways in which low income families can be best helped.
Those involved will be expected to join programmes aimed at finding long-term employment and becoming involved in social inclusion projects.
The idea is to see the difference that can be made to a household once the basic cost of living – that of providing a home – is covered.
“We want to monitor what impact it will have once the right to housing is guaranteed,” added Laia Ortiz, who oversees social policy at Barcelona's city hall.
The initiative aims to challenge the argument that benefits remove the incentive to look for work.
According to Project Manager Raffaele Barbato, the objective of B-Mincome is to “radically change and revolutionise the fight against urban poverty”.
The project is designed to “test and analyse how effective forms of universal economic support, combined with access to services such as housing, education, work and community participation can reduce poverty.”
Results from the pilot carried out in the three diverse districts within the European Union will be used in a comparative analysis of the cost and effectiveness of different anti-poverty policies, “with the ultimate goal of developing more efficient welfare services.”