Kevin McKenna, “The Scottish pioneer whose plan for a basic income could transform Britain”
In January 2017, The Guardian published an interview with Matt Kerr, the Glasgow councillor who has spearheaded an effort to establish a basic income pilot in the city.
Kerr charges that the UK’s social benefit system is no longer adequate, and believes that it is important to consider radical change as a way to give people hope.
Look, it might be that at the end of this whole exercise we find that it’s just not workable, but I’d rather give it a go in good faith. At the moment, defending a system that is only slightly better than the one the government is trying to implement is simply not good enough. It’s not giving anyone any hope.
According to Kerr, in addition to providing a social safety net in a world in which full employment seems increasingly unrealistic, a basic income would provide individuals with greater freedom and control over their lives.
If you’re free from worrying about having a roof over your head and feeding your children, you can be free to take some risks and manage your own life. You can have the ability to take part in your community and volunteer without the risk of sanctions. At its core is a message from the state to the individual, saying ‘we actually give a damn about you and we’ll treat you with respect’.
The interview also touches upon Kerr’s criticism of the Universal Credit scheme introduced in 2010 by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which merged six means-tested programs into a single monthly payment that is gradually clawed back with additional earnings.
Kerr announced at the launch of Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland in November 2016 that the Glasgow council had instructed its officers to begin researching and designing a local pilot study.
Read the full article:
Kevin McKenna, “The Scottish pioneer whose plan for a basic income could transform Britain,” The Guardian, January 7, 2017.
Reviewed by Dave Clegg.
Photo: Glasgow Cathedral, CC BY 2.0 Michel Curi