Latest Public Sector News

04.01.17

Scottish councils considering universal basic income trials

A scheme to give every citizen a universal basic income (UBI) is set to be piloted by two Scottish councils as they have started to investigate trial schemes this year.

The initiative, in which benefits will be replaced by a single, unconditional payment regardless of earned income, is currently being considered by Glasgow and Fife councils following meetings held late last year.

The councils have not yet announced at which level the basic income will be set but will proceed with the pilots subject to securing sufficient government funding.

“Like a lot of people, I was interested in the idea [of the UBI] but never completely convinced,” said Cllr Matt Kerr, anti-poverty lead on Glasgow City Council.

“But it is also about solidarity: it says that everyone is valued and the government will support you. It changes the relationship between the individual and the state.”

The UBI is a growing idea in Europe, with a pilot currently running in the Netherlands and another set to launch in Finland this year, as it intends to provide people with a basic economic platform on which to build their lives, whether they choose to work, study or help others voluntarily.

Prior to the introduction of the scheme, councils will first arrange a feasibility study to present a strong enough evidence base for a pilot, making a decision on how much people should get and how the scheme will be funded. 

“The funding question is always the big one, and really will depend upon the approach a pilot takes,” says Jamie Cooke, head of the thinktank RSA Scotland, which has been leading nationwide research on the subject.

“It could be funding from particular trusts, it could be individual philanthropic funding, or it could be a redirection of the existing welfare spend.”

The initiative has cross-party support in Scotland with both the ruling SNP government and Labour interested in the UBI, seeing it as a potential solution to improve health and happiness and help workers in an economy of increasingly insecure employment.

Supporters of the UBI believe it would also create a fairer, less complex system than the current mix of welfare benefits, eliminating benefit fraud and reducing administrative costs.

However, opponents of UBI have warned that the scheme might make people unwilling to work and would give public funds to the already well-off.

A referendum on whether or not to introduce UBI in Switzerland was overwhelmingly rejected last year – but a recent poll in the UK found two-thirds of respondents were in favour of the idea.

 Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Collaborative working is the key to the future at home and abroad

Collaborative working is the key to the future at home and abroad

David Hawkins, operations director at the Institute for Collaborative Working (ICW), on why ISO 44001 is a new evolution in collaborative working. The past 12 months have seen seismic changes b more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

An integrated approach to greening public transport

28/04/2017An integrated approach to greening public transport

Dave Pearson, director of transport services at West Yorkshire Combined Aut... more >
Unlocking the combination to criminal justice reform

28/04/2017Unlocking the combination to criminal justice reform

If new mayors want to improve the life chances of their communities, help t... more >

interviews

Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

25/04/2017Maintaining the momentum for further devolution

Ahead of this year’s mayoral elections, Lord Kerslake, the former hea... more >

most read

Shared Services and Outsourcing Week

the raven's daily blog

A watershed moment in British democracy

02/05/2017A watershed moment in British democracy

The upcoming mayoral elections represent a watershed moment in the history of British democracy, reports PSE’s Luana Salles.  On 4 May, voters across six regio... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

11/04/2017A watershed moment in British politics

The government has now officially triggered Article 50, formally starting the process of Britain’s exit from the EU. How this will affect local government, the wider public sector and the Civil Service remains to be seen, but the likelihood of it being plain sailing with the enormity of the task ahead seems rather unlikely.  It is, therefore, quite appropriate that in this edition of PSE Professor Chris Painter reflects on the profound changes that have taken place in the... read more >