Universal Basic Income 9: Scotland

Jonathon Porritt tweeted a link to Libby Brooksarticle in the Guardian about four Scottish councils who will be undertaking the first universal basic income pilot schemes in the UK, supported by a grant announced last month by the Scottish government.

She explains: “The concept of a universal basic income revolves around the idea of offering every individual, regardless of their existing benefit entitlement or earned income, a non-conditional flat-rate payment, with any income earned above that taxed progressively. The intention is to replace the welfare safety net with a platform on which people can build their lives, whether they choose to earn, learn, care or set up a business”.

Grassmarket and Victoria Street in Edinburgh

There is cross-party support across the four areas currently designing basic income pilots – Glasgow, Edinburgh (above), Fife and North Ayrshire – the projects have been championed by Labour, SNP, Green and, in one case, Conservative councillors.

Ms Brooks continues, “A civil service briefing paper on basic income expressed concerns that the “conflicting and confusing” policy could be a disincentive to work and costed its national roll-out at £12.3bn a year. But advocates argue the figures fail to take into account savings the scheme would bring. The independent thinktank Reform Scotland, which published a briefing earlier this month setting out a suggested basic income of £5,200 for every adult, has calculated that much of the cost could be met through a combination of making work-related benefits obsolete and changes to the tax system, including scrapping the personal allowance and merging national insurance and income tax”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told a conference of international economists days after the critical briefing paper: “It might turn out not to be the answer, it might turn out not to be feasible. But as work and employment changes as rapidly as it is doing, I think it’s really important that we are prepared to be open-minded about the different ways that we can support individuals to participate fully in the new economy.”

Urban and rural councils will take part (above, rural Fife).  Joe Cullinane, the Labour leader of North Ayrshire council, said:

“We have high levels of deprivation and high unemployment, so we take the view that the current system is failing us and we need to look at something new to lift people out of poverty.

“Basic income has critics and supporters on the left and right, which tells you there are very different ways of shaping it and we need to state at the outset that this is a progressive change, to remove that fear and allow people to have greater control over their lives, to enter the labour market on their own terms.”

 

 

 

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Posted on December 26, 2017, in Basic income and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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