The country and continent are facing unprecedented times with never a greater need for societies to be pulling together to protect and preserve lives, wellbeing and values. Alongside the 2.8 million Scots on pensions and social security benefits, almost 1 in 4 of the workforce are self- employed, entrepreneurs or other members of the precariat. For the health of each of them, and so of us all given the need for everyone to have protection from illness and Covid-19 especially, the basic needs of all must be our first priority.
We know this disease will be spread unnecessarily and rapidly by the unwell having to work, shop, travel and generally be in social contact if they cannot afford to stay home and get better. Warm homes, good nourishment and freedom from worry over bills for everyone means we need a concerted and inclusive effort across society to remove a lack of income driving our fellow citizens into the streets, shops and workplaces. Rationing in wartime is required when basic goods are in shortage; our supermarkets, energy suppliers and other providers of essential goods and services say we are not in that position as supply chains continue to be robust, although subject to glitches when there is panic buying.
The real barrier to achieving a manageable crisis is the threat to a basic income for each and every member of our society an economy. Because many are facing losing their jobs, are not entitled to redundancy pay, are having to work regardless of whether they may be ill, have no sick pay nor holiday pay, and without the other elements of the National Insurance system we are creating an economic crisis. Simply reducing interest rates, relaxing mortgage deadlines, bailing out particular sectors and the other sectoral initiatives cannot help the self-employed and entrepreneurs without savings, those on short-term and zero hour contracts who are usually living from hand to mouth; between a quarter and a third of households have no savings, many others will exhaust theirs within weeks. To maintain effective demand in the economy, to ensure the sick do not have to work and so spread Covid-19, it is essential that there is a quick and effective means to ensure that everyone has a basic income.
Putting money into the hands of the poorest and most threatened by the current emergency will help maintain spending on essentials, on rents and energy – and support local small businesses far more effectively, efficiently and sustainably over a longer period of time than handouts to airlines, banks and investors. With a basic income we are better able to manage Covid-19, we save lives and promote health, we keep spending and investment in the essentials of life for after the crisis, and we confirm that we are a society and all in this together. CBINS therefore supports the calls for the introduction of a basic income without delay, at this time for all recognising that security for one is a public good: we all benefit.
Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland