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Scottish Universal Basic Income Experiments

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, announced that a number of basic income experiments in her country will be funded by the national government. The local councils concerned – these being Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayreshire – had already committed to the experiments, but this is the first time that national funding for them has been made available.

The original plans for the experiments were developed in partnership with the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), a British charity which had previously produced an award-winning report on the potential means of implementing basic income in the UK. Anthony Painter, Director of the RSA’s Action and Research Centre and co-author of the report, said “There is a myth that Basic Income is at odds with work. We believe that it in fact forms a foundation for better work… We welcome experimentation and the support committed today helps Scotland join Finland, Canada and several places in the US in exploring how Basic Income can enable better and more secure working lives. We hope to see more such experiments across the UK.”

Jamie Cooke, Director of RSA Scotland, commented, “We are delighted to see this commitment from the Scottish Government to support the development of UBI pilots… We face challenges within the current social security system as it struggles to respond to modern challenges, and are in a period of flux in terms of the changing nature of work and employment. UBI offers an opportunity to respond to these challenges, breaking down barriers to work which currently exist, offering space for better quality work, and helping move people out of the precarious lives that many are currently stuck in.”

Sturgeon has stated that the results of the experiments will “inform parliament’s thinking for the future.” However, as Scotland is still part of the UK, it will not currently be able to put basic income into practice without the approval of the government of Great Britain.

The decision to fund the experiments has been reported on by the national British press, including the Independent and the Telegraph, both of which included a brief and largely accurate summation of the nature of universal basic income (UBI).

Sturgeon’s decision comes as she put forward a government programme which includes higher taxes to fund social services, and a plan to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. This has been seen by some as a political move to the left in order to fight back against the Labour party’s resurgent popularity in Scotland since the recent general election.

About Claire Bott

Claire Bott has written 15 articles.

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The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

5 comments

  • Noel

    At last an intelligent politician. Thousands of years of innovation and here we are on the cusp of a technological revolution in employment, where we are nearing a point where all those monotonous repetitious soul destroying jobs will be done by machines. We can finally contemplate constructive leisure as apposed to destructive leisure to compensate for all that lost potential from a lifetime of monotony.

  • Totally agree. The UBER question in London should be looked at through the prism of UBI. UBER drivers, if there were UBI, could work without exploitation, or at least less exploitation if it were in place. So instead of looking back to old solutions on the trade union regulated model, workers would have much more choice, and be able to do other work or none along with the taxi work.

  • Matt

    It is about time that Universal Credit was terminated, it has been a disaster from the outset, even the report on it hints at the failings.

    Having been on it in 2016, it is a complete shambles, staff don’t seem to be able to communicate on a basic level between themselves, they made so many errors with my case that they cut off housing benefit without checking and verifying my actual situation, leaving me £4000 out of pocket.

    Basic income is the only answer as we find robotics and automation now impacting the workplace at a phenomenal rate, the DWP and the Government are doing nothing about UBI – the spectre of robotics is not going away and this head in the sand attitude is beyond belief.

    The DWP costs £389 million a year to run, not including the Benefits they pay out it is time to sweep away the nasty, sanction based UC and the DWP and replace it with a one level payment to anyone over 16 years old until they die, with the right saving and work creation ethic we will have enriched lives not just have to be wage slaves to live.

    We will have to rethink our futures but this new future will be much better.

  • Good article. I learned stuff. Thank you, to the author.

  • Del Cosmo

    Note that UK and Great Britain are not the same thing. The UK is a sovereign state: Great Britain is simply a geographical landmass within the UK.

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