January 9, 2019
The search for financial security
As the roll out of Universal Credit continues to face universal criticism, research into other ways of providing a baseline of financial security for citizens continues. However, amidst rumours that the largest pilot study into the feasibility of a basic income was being scaled back by the Finnish Government and that another experiment was to be concluded earlier than planned by Ontario’s provincial government, some feared the end of the road. Not so apparently. The results will simply inform the next stage of this lengthy learning journey. Scotland’s four pilot areas are expected to report back later this year.
A SUCCESSFUL joint bid to the Scottish Government for £250,000 will help fund the work to design local pilots of basic income in four councils across Scotland.
Fife, North Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh and and Glasgow City Councils are working together with NHS Health Scotland and the Improvement Service to explore the feasibility of pilots in their areas with the aims of reducing poverty and inequality and a possible route to a fairer and simpler welfare system.
Basic income pilots are already running successfully in countries including the Netherlands and Canada. Although there are many different models, the aim is to promote fairness and provide people with a basic income they can use whether they want to earn, learn, care, or set up a business.
Now, with funding in place work to explore the feasibility of a basic income in Scotland can be taken forward.
Fife Council’s Co-Leaders Cllrs David Ross and David Alexanders welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has invested in the innovative project.
“I am pleased we have had a positive response to our proposal from the Scottish Government”, said Cllr Ross. “This means the Steering Group can move forward with the design phase of the project. I look forward to working with colleagues and partners over the coming months to test out what contribution this approach might make to achieving our common aim of tackling poverty in our communities.”
Cllr Alexander added: “This is an exciting step forward. We’ve now got up to two years to come back to the Scottish Government with our proposals and turn our ideas into reality.”
Communities Secretary Angela Constance said: “We committed in our Programme for Government to support work that seeks to better understand the impact of CBI on poverty and inequality, including the costs, benefits and savings. I am delighted that the four local authorities are working together on their plans for pilots and look forward to seeing this develop.”
North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “In North Ayrshire, too many children are living in poverty and too many adults can’t find decent work. We need big, bold social and economic reforms that can deliver the change our citizens need and Basic Income is one possibility. We welcome this funding and are excited to be working collaboratively with the other councils in this innovative partnership.”
Glasgow City Treasurer Cllr Allan Gow said: “This support from the Scottish Government is very welcome and will allow partners, including Glasgow, to start making real progress.
“While the feasibility of a basic income still needs to be established, what is absolutely clear is that the current UK welfare system isn’t capable of meeting people’s real needs. It is undoubtedly positive that local authorities are working together, across parties, to try and find something better.”
Councillor Cammy Day, Depute Leader for the City of Edinburgh Council and Poverty Champion, said: “It’s great news for the Capital city to be chosen as one of the four councils to design a basic income pilot as we are really keen to see the initiative developed here in Edinburgh. We look forward to working with our fellow local authorities to reduce poverty and inequality.”
The four local authorities will report back to the Scottish Government in September 2019 before a final decision on the pilots will be made.
For more information www.basicincome.scot