News; News & Events

SCOTLAND: Scottish National Party Conference calls for universal income

The Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland’s largest party and the UK’s third largest party, agreed to a motion supporting the introduction of a basic income in Scotland at its spring conference, held on 12-13 March 2016.

The motion, which was submitted for agreement by the Cumbernauld SNP branch, explicitly opposes the UK government’s approach to social security and proposes an alternative formed around the introduction of a basic income. The motion states that the “conference believes that a basic or universal income can potentially provide a foundation to eradicate poverty, make work pay and ensure all our citizens can live in dignity.” Ronnie Cowan MP (SNP) argued that a basic income could “be the flagship policy for a socially just independent country.”

The SNP is not the first group to support the introduction of a basic income this year.

In February 2016, Reform Scotland, an Edinburgh-based free market think tank, published The Basic Income Guarantee. In the report, Reform Scotland argue that the introduction of a basic income guarantee is the best way to resolve fundamental problems with the current social security system in the UK. On the other side of the economic discourse, Common Weal, a Glasgow-based social democratic think tank, is also advocating for the introduction of a basic income as part of the social security system for a newly independent Scotland.

Indeed, interest in a Scottish basic income stretches back even farther, to before the Scottish referendum on independence. In preparation for the possibility of a vote in favour of an independent Scotland, the Scottish government established the Expert Working Group on Welfare to explore possible social security systems. In June 2014, the group stated that, “the case for a Citizen’s Basic Income was prevalent throughout the responses to our Call for Evidence.” Nevertheless, the group went on to conclude that, “we would not recommend the introduction of a [basic income] at this time. However it is an option that could be revisited in the future.”

With a consensus now forming around the basic income idea in Scotland, perhaps the time to revisit this option has come.

Moreover, the SNP’s support for a basic income does not stop at the borders of an independent Scotland: the SNP is also emerging as a key force behind campaigns for a UK basic income. In January 2016, Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) tabled an Early Day Motion before the UK parliament on the topic of a basic income.

Of the 32 MPs that supported her parliamentary motion, 23 were from the SNP. In light of this development, it could be that the SNP, though championing a progressive vision for an independent Scotland, ultimately succeeds in creating a progressive, unified United Kingdom.

About Jonny West

Jonny West has written 3 articles.

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.


  • Paul

    This is fantastic news. A Universal Basic Income will eradicate destitution and poverty, allow people the freedom to be more productive to society and stop people who cannot find employment from hurting themselves.

    Please make this happen in Scotland before more people fall through the cracks of financial hardship.

  • Mr E. Blowfelt

    This has to be the future, More and more of our jobs will be “Automated” as call centres become server farms, With the advent of 3d printing logistics will be limited to almost nothing, And with a national income the unemployed can find new skills that make them more productive rather than new skill that make rich people richer (until they find a more profitable way of exploiting our poor)

    I have been unable to work due to a serious road traffic accident, Hoping to go back to my place of employment soon. But having little to do all day has enabled me to build all sorts of new skills that i would never of had the time to do if i were just working for someone else. I am sure that some of these skills will become more important over time. Where as our (conventional) unemployed are sanctioned for these sort of activities,

    • Kathryn

      I agree, too much time is spent/wasted on filling in forms and going through the system. When individuals are encouraged it is amazing what they are capable of. The introduction of a basic income guarantee definitely sounds like the best way to resolve fundamental problems with the current social security system in the UK. Also many things were built by the working classes only to be destroyed by the financial services, A change of focus is needed in government from mass surveillance, propaganda and war to actually doing the job of government looking after the interests of the people instead of criminals/corporations.

  • Ewen Morrison

    A fantastically logical and dignified proposal! It’s difficult to imagine a better idea – allowing people an honourable income which is free of any stigma! An internationally appealing movement…hope for our world perhaps?

  • billy hammett

    name one time a government reformed a social security system that did not make its recipients worse off be careful what you wish for.

    • Andre Coelho

      That does not disprove basic income. If you are certain basic income cannot work, then it is you who shall demonstrate it to others.

  • Vasiliki

    This is fantastic news! I know that in The Netherlands they are already introducing the basic income in the city of Utrecht and 19 other Dutch municipalities. I hope that Australia follows suit soon as many people are suffering under the current system including myself. The government does not recognise the social and other contributions I make to the society because i do not fit their little tick boxes. To be truly happy I am not able to fulfil their requirements. I help an elderly woman out by buying her things she needs and likes to eat. I also help her with bureaucracy as her English is poor. I also clean the Creek of plastics which the Aboriginal people recognise but the white government does not. The current system is de-humanising and we need to change it quickly, The Aboriginal people have been suffering for too long in this country and we need help from abroad as we still have no Treaty here and it is an illegal occupation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.