Scottish Feasibility Study

Posted on June 11, 2020

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The feasibility report of a Citizens’ Basic Income (CBI) pilot in Scotland has been published today. This study is the most rigorous and extensive pre-pilot work that has ever been done. It positions Scotland clearly as one of the world leaders on basic income.

This work has been led by four local authorities Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire and Fife and was funded by Scottish Government. The report of a group of researchers shows that pilots are a desirable and mostly feasible next step.

A basic income is a regular payment that goes to everyone, regardless of their circumstance. The amount paid, how it is funded and how it interacts with existing social security depends on the model. But the underlying principle is to provide everyone with enough money to meet their basic needs.

Unfortunately there are political barriers to a UBI trial in Scotland being implemented as the powers sit with Westminster. Pilots would require support from all levels of government for their entire duration.

These barriers must be removed for Scotland to deliver these pilots in four local authorities, which would be some of the most robust exploration of basic income ever performed. It could provide the world with a unique study about the potentials and challenges of a basic income for every resident.

The feasibility study report states that “a robust political coalition of support” is required to remove these barriers and that “public support is essential to secure strategic backing and engagement from political groups”. 

The First Minister of Scotland has recently strengthened her support for the policy, “My position on that has gone from having a keen interest in exploring it to what I now describe as active support for it.” There is cross party support for the policy in Scottish Parliament and from MPs across the UK. 

Therefore it is an opportune moment for Scotland to put this transformative policy at the heart of its future and roll out a national, universal basic income. Pilots should be implemented, at the very least. 

Several countries around the world have piloted a basic income. There is a significant body of evidence that suggests it has a positive impact on health and well-being. The implementation of this well prepared UBI trial in Scotland could be the final push for the introduction of a Global UBI.