Opportunities party promises universal basic income for youth

The Opportunities Party (TOP) is promising to give young people $200 per week as part of its universal basic income policy.

It's no strings attached cash for all young people aged 18 to 23 and won't be means tested.

Party leader Gareth Morgan says it's aimed at "badly neglected by the political regime in New Zealand".

"They're subject to quite a lot of stress, we can see that in the mental illness statistics for that group, we can see it in the youth suicide statistics, drug abuse, all that stuff."

"This transition from the nest to being independent is not that easy." Mr Morgan says.

"People come in and out of paid work very much and no longer is lifetime employment for the same firm, even doing the same skill, no longer is that the norm."

Mr Morgan says 70 percent of youth don't go through tertiary education but they still contribute to society and create wealth.

Young people would get $10,000 a year under the policy, which is intended to support young people when they finish school and decide what to do with their lives next.

The party estimated it would cost $2.4 billion a year to implement, and would be funded using the Government's surpluses and scrapping National's promised tax cuts.

TOP already has a policy to provide a universal basic income to all families with kids under three, and all people over 65. Its ultimate goal is to roll out a universal basic income for everyone.

"The dream is eventually the machine does all the work and we all go to the beach," Mr Morgan says.

New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) president Jonathan Gee has welcomed the policy but disagreed with comments Mr Morgan made about university subsidies being "middle class welfare".

He said the union has long supported getting rid of means testing, calling the measure unfair, inefficient and invasive, but disputed Mr Morgan's comments on tertiary students.

"We know that tertiary education is a powerful social lever which takes many disadvantaged communities out of poverty and reduces inequality. Dismissing it as a middle-class aspiration ignores the public value of education."

"Morgan seems to believe that only those at university are engaged in tertiary-study. Yet he forgets that those in polytechnics, wānanga, industry training, community providers and apprenticeships are also engaged in tertiary education," Mr Gee said.