Latest report on basic income feasibility published

Posted on 15 Mar 2021

Partners involved in exploring the feasibility of citizens basic income (CBI) pilots in Scotland have published an interim report into their findings.

Fife, North Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils are working together with NHS Health Scotland and the Improvement Service to explore the feasibility of a Scottish CBI pilot.

As well as the resources provided by these partners, the Scottish Government has provided £250,000 over two years to support the feasibility work in Scotland. The aim of a pilot would be to test the contribution of CBI to reducing poverty and providing a possible route to a fairer and simpler welfare system.

The interim report provides an overview of the work done so far and is being presented to the Scottish Government for their feedback on progress and next steps. It will also be discussed at a meeting of the Basic Income Scotland Steering Group with stakeholders from across public and voluntary sectors.

Project Manager Wendy Hearty explained: “Although there are many different models of citizen’s basic income schemes, it aims to create a fairer and simpler welfare system, providing people with a basic income they can use whether they want to earn, learn, care, or set up a business.

“The Steering Group has been looking at the feasibility of a CBI pilot in terms of how these would work financially, ethically, politically and how they could be evaluated. A number of pilot models are outlined in the report which also provides gross estimates of costs for certain pilot models. These estimates do not yet factor benefits and potential savings so are very preliminary and subject to change.

“The group do not want to propose models of CBI for piloting that will lead to direct financial detriment for participants. The challenge is that the current social security system is designed to identify financial need and pay people accordingly, while a CBI is designed to be universal. To achieve a balance, certain benefits would need to be continued alongside a CBI.”

The Group will deliver a final report to the Scottish Government in March next year which will contain recommendations about whether and under what circumstances a CBI pilot is feasible, how it could be undertaken, what it would be able to consider, and its likely cost.

Wendy continued: “It is important to stress that this is an interim report and that no firm recommendations are being made at this stage. However, this interim report represents substantial progress in our work to consider how CBI might contribute to reducing poverty and improving the lives of the population.

“Piloting a CBI will need the full co-operation of a range of institutions including the Scottish Government, the DWP and HMRC. We’ll continue to work with these organisations to see what would be possible including considering the legal and institutional barriers that would need to be overcome to pilot CBI.

“We are looking forward to feedback from the Scottish Government and others on the work we’ve done so far. We are now working hard to deliver a final feasibility report with fewer uncertainties and clear recommendations on appropriate next steps.”