The following is the opening address from Maddy Halliday at our event in Kelty about the Fife basic income pilot on January 28th 2017:
I am delighted to be here and to see so much interest in Citizen’s Basic Income. Thank you for joining us and Fife Council in this milestone event, to launch CBINS and provide an opportunity to discuss piloting CBI in principle and in Fife.
I am one of four co-founders of CBINS and one of 7 trustees – and 6 of us are here today.
You have already met Willie. Willie is a co-founder of CBINS, CBINS Board Chair and organiser of this event today with colleagues in Fife Council.
Other CBINS trustees here today are:
- Annie Miller, another co-founder of CBINS, who has been promoting CBI for over 35 years.
- Mike Danson, who is professor of economics.
Both Annie and Mike will be speaking later.
Two other CBINS trustees here today are:
- Ben Simmons, who is our digital communications supremo
- Mike McCarron, who organised our other, very successful regional launch in Govan in November 2016.
Our other trustee, Jill Wood, can’t be here today as she has just had a baby boy!
CBINS defines CBI, which is also known as UBI:
“as an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to every individual as a right of citizenship.”
The idea of CBI is not new, with key historical advocates including Thomas Paine, who wrote the Rights of Man and advocated a minimum basic income in 1797. More recent high profile advocates include the late Martin Luther King. Current internationally respected advocates include Professor Karl Widerquist, who we are delighted is speaking at our launch today – and Professor Guy Standing, who spoke at our launch in November 2016 in Govan, Glasgow.
We founded CBINS because of our belief that CBI provides an ethical and practical means of establishing greater financial security for all, supporting social justice and inclusion by reducing poverty and inequality and improving quality of life and well being.
CBI would assist in the realisation of the right for every human to have an adequate standard of living as set in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the linked International Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which affirms the right for every human to have essential human needs fulfilled such as the right to adequate food and shelter.
A Citizen’s Basic Income (CBI) scheme in Scotland would provide every citizen with a universal, non-means tested and unconditional basic income, replacing most of our current Social Security benefits and most of the loopholes in our personal income tax system. This is not such a radical idea as it may seem – we currently accept that:
- every person in work has a personal tax free income, as of 2017 this is up to £11,500
- people over a certain age are entitled to a state pension
We also accept the idea of child benefit for every child, although more recently elements of conditionality have been included.
However, our current welfare benefits system for people of working age who are unable to work does not provide adequate financial security, has unfair and harsh conditionality and sanctions, does not provide an adequate standard of living, damages well being, is inefficient and not cost-effective.
CBINS believes that CBI, which would be funded through progressive taxation, would:
- help create a fairer, more just and inclusive society, reducing poverty and inequality
- support individual empowerment and choice around living arrangements, paid work, learning and caring responsibilities
- support and protect children, disabled and older people
- be administratively efficient with significantly reduced costs
Although the concept of CBI is simple, implementation is fairly complex and technical – although certainly possible. There have been successful schemes in Canada and India and schemes are underway in Finland and Netherlands.
So what will CBINS do?
The objectives of the Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland are:
‘to advance research and public education about the economic and social effects and influences of Citizen’s Basic Income systems.
We will do this through publications, events and communications to support learning, debate and advocacy to increase understanding and build support for implementation.
Our current and future activities include:
- continuing promotion through our website, blogs and social media and through newspapers, TV and radio
- events to promote awareness and engagement by key decision makers including fringe meetings at Party Political conferences and at the Scottish Parliament
- strengthening collaboration with other organisations in Scotland which support CBI, including local authorities such as Fife and Glasgow, RSA and Buchanan Institute
- delivering a rolling programme of CBI training events in community venues across Scotland to develop a network of informed CBI advocates who will promote CBI through their own community, political, trade union and other networks
- publication of a CBI Handbook in May 2017, written by Annie Miller, that will provide background information on CBI and practical guidance and options on implementation in Scotland.
CBINS is actively fundraising to support delivery of all this work. We will be seeking funding from the public and supporters as well as charitable Trusts. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so through our website.
More importantly, if you want to be kept informed about CBINS work and find out how you might become more involved, please sign up through our website.
I am sure you will find the rest of today informative and stimulating.
Thank you for listening and enjoy the day!