The Glasgow City Council is funding a study to assess the potential for a basic universal income for citizens. £5,000 has been allocated to find a model which will deliver an unconditional, regular payment instead of benefits. In the process of designing a potential form for the initiative, discussions with community groups and the public sector are planned.
The concept has been part of a worldwide discussion, with a pilot taking off in Finland and four Dutch cities set to partake. Whilst the Scottish government has agreed to participate, they believe it will not work north of the border unless welfare and tax is fully devolved. These trials hope to determine a response which will help “alleviate poverty and build economic and social inclusion”, according to a document considered by the committee.
The benefit system has been criticised for providing people little incentive to take on low-income jobs due to the limit it applies to welfare allowances. These trials hope to gage an understanding of how those out of work would respond, as well as creating a practical scheme. They aim to provide incentive for people to acquire further education or change career, or perhaps even pursue starting their own business.
Proponents claim that such initiatives can cut welfare bureaucracy and reduce poverty, whilst also claiming that the project could potentially allow Scotland to contribute to the debate and work towards a solution for the existing issues of poverty, inequality and health.
Head of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, Scotland (RSA), Jamie Cooke said: "We now have the opportunity to move the basic income conversation forward and identify practical ways to run a pilot which works locally and has global resonance.”
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