This week represents an incredibly exciting moment for the Basic Income movement as the draft final report on the feasibility of a Basic Income is released on Thursday, before being submitted to the Scottish Government later in the month. This article gives an overview to what the report is all about and hints at what the next steps are in securing a Basic Income for Scotland.
So lets start from the beginning, a very good place to start…
A Basic Income is a cash payment paid to all individual regardless of wealth, age or employment status. It has five predominant characteristics:
Universal – it’s paid to all
Unconditional – it’s paid without requirements or means tests
Periodic – it’s not a one off grant but paid at regular intervals
Cash payment – it is not paid through food vouchers, benefits, services or in-kind
Individual – it’s not paid to household, but individuals
It’s an idea whose time has come. Reducing poverty, giving workers bargaining power, eliminating financial insecurity, empowering the pursuit of arts, supporting carers and endless other possibilities which a Basic Income will enable.
So why is this such an exciting time for the Basic Income movement?
Well, on Thursday the much anticipated report into the feasibility of a Basic Income in Scotland is being published.
If you haven’t heard of the report, here’s some background info: In 2017 the Scottish Government announced it would support local authorities into researching a Basic Income, providing a fund of £250,000 to enable the exploration. Fife Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Glasgow City Council and North Ayrshire Council have been working together to research the feasibility of local pilot schemes for a Basic Income in Scotland.
This focus for the feasibility of a pilot scheme builds on the first phase of research by the same councils. That research looked at the impact a Basic Income would have in reducing poverty and inequality. The production of the report took into consideration existing, published research and contemporary pilot schemes. New research was also undertaken, engaging with communities and researching new areas.
In short, for the last two years these local governments have been considering the role of a Basic Income would play in reducing poverty by exploring the feasibility of conducting local pilots in Scotland.
The Interim Feasibility Report was published in November 2019 and can be accessed here. But if you’re saving yourself for the final document, we can summarise on the interim report, which was incredibly positive. The report points to the evidence of a Basic Income having beneficial impacts on health and social outcomes, younger people staying in education longer and positive economic impacts such as reduced health service usage and increased business activity. These initial positive findings have furthered the Basic Income conversation, encouraging the report on Thursday, which focuses on how feasible a pilot would be in Scotland.
So are you excited yet?
Whilst the prospect of a report being published might not immediately be the radical change we all crave, I really can’t express enough how important this will be for the Basic Income campaign in Scotland, and globally.
This report has set a huge precedent and represents a giant step forward for the Basic Income movement. A national government commissioning a report into a Basic Income places the policy firmly on the agenda; no longer is it a just utopian idea, existing in the margins. This is world leading research, not simply about Basic Income as an idea, but focussing on the practical feasibility of exactly how it could be implemented. Make no mistake, if you want to understand how seriously a Basic Income is now being taken by governments across the world, this report will provide a perfect example.
So what do we do now? Well, other than excitedly await its release, we start to prepare for the next step towards a Basic Income in Scotland. This report is a huge statement of intent, and something on which we must build momentum. Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government have already shown clear interest, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasised the need for a Basic Income. So now is the time for action. We want to welcome people of all beliefs to engage with the report on Thursday and the wider Basic Income conversation. As our movement grows and deepens, we will continue to encourage the government to pilot a Basic Income here in Scotland.
This is merely the start of an exciting week for the Basic Income movement. We will be writing up a summary of the report following its publication on Thursday. Then it’s time to work together to secure a Basic Income for Scotland. Stay tuned.