It is well established that there is a strong link in Scotland between deprivation and crime, with crime rates in the poorest areas at 21%, whereas they are only 15% in richer areas (1). Whilst the causes of crime are complex, there are many areas highlighted in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (2) that could be drivers of crime, and which could be improved through introduction of a basic income. For example, unemployment in the most deprived areas is three times that in the least deprived, and twice that of the nationwide average. Lack of jobs in these areas presents individuals with diminished scope for improving their quality of life through legal means, and where a lack of employment opportunities has been endemic for decades it is not surprising to see that over 25% of the working population have low or no qualifications from school, five times higher than in the least deprived areas in Scotland, and twice the national average.
Individuals on very low incomes in the most deprived areas are more likely to have no marketable skills, and no jobs to apply for if they did have them. A basic income could stimulate job creation, remove the poverty trap, make education accessible and reduce the number of those unable to work through poor health. All of these measures would improve the quality of life for individuals and reduce social inequality.
Crime is both a consequence and a cause of social deprivation, for which there is no instant fix. A basic income would represent a major change in the life opportunities and outcomes for those living in the highest crime areas, and those most likely to turn to crime as a source of income.