With the current social security budget being deemed to be unacceptably high by most political parties it is clear that we need a radical change to how we approach employment and how we maintain a real safety net for those out of work.
Worse is still ahead as the oncoming technological revolution will ensure that a large number of jobs through a variety of sectors will be lost with the Bank of England estimating that by 2030 50% of employment in America and the UK will be gone. What then for a safety net for half the population? The threat of automation is very real and an very present danger to our society. What will become of those who lose their jobs? How can we as a society engineered by the media and politicians to abhor benefit scroungers accept that half the population will not be in work simply because there are no jobs for them to fill?
A citizens basic income unquestionably offers a solution to not only the current situation of low paying jobs and zero hours contracts but also to a future so clouded with uncertainty in an ever growing technological jobs market.
As a society we must begin to prepare now for the future that means adopting a basic income programme to ensure an eradication of poverty. To maintain a decent standard of living for all as prices continue to rise and wages stagnate. We must also begin to change our attitudes and remove the stigma towards people who do not work. They will play a role within a modern economy as consumers. After all who will buy the cars, and televisions that robotics will make?
Those on the left must be at the forefront of this to ensure that when a basic income is introduced that it will not be as a replacement for our social security and our welfare state. Rather a further development in creating a fairer and more equal society.
I warmly welcome the introduction of our first Scottish citizens basic income pilots in Fife and look forward to working with the Citizens Basic Income Network Scotland in achieving what will be a progressive solution to eradicating poverty and countering the threat posed of automation and robotics.
- Allan Grogan, Bread & Roses think tank, @BreadRosesScot & @AllanGrogan