Frequently asked questions

Do the Scottish Government and the local authorities involved have the powers to implement a Scottish CBI Pilot?

The feasibility study has determined it is not currently feasible to progress to a pilot model of CBI as described by the Steering Group without strong support across all levels of government (local, Scottish and UK). Local authorities under the Local Government in Scotland Act (2003), have powers to provide payments and benefits but neither Local Authorities nor Scottish Government have the powers to influence tax rates or personal tax allowances. The full cooperation and support of the DWP and HMRC would be required to overcome the barriers to piloting CBI in Scotland.

How much will a Scottish CBI Pilot cost?

Trialling an intervention such as CBI is likely to involve substantial spending as it is attempting to meet the basic living costs for an entire community for the duration of the pilot study. The final feasibility report provides indicative estimates of the costs of CBI payments within the proposed pilot model.

Estimates suggest that a three-year pilot, which tests the effects of two different levels of CBI, would cost approximately £186 million. This includes estimated benefits and pensions savings, however do not include pilot implementation and administration costs.

Does the Feasibility Study propose a pilot model of CBI in Scotland?

The CBI Steering Group has developed a proposed model and evaluation plan for a CBI pilot in Scotland. The pilot would aim to understand the impact of CBI on poverty, child poverty and unemployment, as well as health and financial wellbeing, experience of the social security system, changes in the number of people involved in training and/or caring, and whether people get more involved in community activities such as volunteering.

The model proposes testing two levels of CBI payments – one ‘high level’ based on the JRF Minimum Income Standard and one ‘low level’ more closely aligned with current benefit levels. For both levels of payment, suspension of a range of existing income-related benefits is proposed, while others, primarily related to disability, housing, childcare and limited capability for work would continue.

It is recommended that a pilot should be a randomised controlled study, with two study areas where the whole community receives a CBI (one receiving the high payment, the other receiving the low payment).

What is the macroeconomic modelling report about and what does it say?

The macroeconomic modelling report was prepared by the Fraser of Allander Institute in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University and IPPR Scotland. The report looks at potential longer-term economic impacts of the CBI proposed in the main feasibility report, if it were rolled out Scotland-wide. It shows that the economic impact is uncertain because the economic and social change it would represent is unprecedented. In practice, the impact would depend on how society responds to the CBI and the tax changes required to fund it. It would also depend on other changes caused by the CBI, such as changes in productivity or changes in migration.

What is the role of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Basic Income?

The Cross Party Group on Basic Income is a Scottish Parliament working group. It is established independently of the Steering Group for the Scottish Basic Income Feasibility research. The Cross Party Group will run in parallel with any developing pilots in Scotland so that it can input advice and evidence to the development of any pilots. The four local authorities involved in the Scottish Basic Income Feasibility research will not be organisational members of the Cross Party Group, but will receive copies of any correspondence relating to the Cross Party group, and may be called to present on progress with the Scottish Basic Income Feasibility research.

Further information about the Cross Party Group on Basic Income can be found here.

What is the role of the CBI Stakeholder Group?

A Stakeholder Group has been established to act as a wider reference group for the activity of the Steering Group taking forward the feasibility work for the Scottish CBI Feasibility research. This group will receive updates on the Citizen’s Basic Income feasibility project as it progresses and provide stakeholder advice and engagement on business case development, and options for local pilots of CBI in Scotland.

What is the role of the CBI Councillor Group?

As part of the governance arrangements for the Steering Group for the Scottish CBI Feasibility research, a group of senior councillors from across the four participating authorities has been established. The purpose of this group is to provide feedback on the progress of the Steering Group and give senior Local Authority input to the feasibility research work programme and the subsequent business case development. The group will meet at least twice a year.

Why are there so many different terms to describe a citizen’s basic income?

Several terms have been used to describe citizen’s basic income. This includes: citizen’s income, basic income, universal income, universal basic income. These terms are often used interchangeably, but also reflect, to an extent, variations in the underlying rationale for the policy.

Citizen’s basic income should not be confused with JRF’s ‘Minimum Income Standard’, which is a calculation of an income threshold. It is also not ‘Universal Credit’, which is a UK Government welfare benefit.

There are three main differences across the variations of citizen’s basic income policy:

  • Eligibility: Some models propose that all people resident within the country at all ages would receive the income at the same level (e.g. adults, children, migrants into the country, prisoners), while in others, the income is based on citizenship and/or age criteria (often being provided at a lower level for children).
  • Benefit replacement: In some variants, citizen’s basic income would replace all other social security payments (including the state pension, all disability payments and housing benefit), while in others, only some of these would be replaced.
  • Level of income: This is the biggest variation in the design of the policy. This concerns the level of income that would be distributed, the relationship to tax-free allowances (and whether or not that would be changed), if there would be associated changes in personal income tax and if the income would be taxable.

What can Scotland learn from other areas?

There are several CBI-type experiments which have recently completed, are underway or are being planned around the world. These include experiments in Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, Barcelona, USA and Kenya. Although specific to their local context, these experiments provide an opportunity to learn about the practicalities and challenges associated with implementing CBI pilots. Research is required to determine the feasibility of such a concept within a Scottish context. As part of the feasibility work, the Scottish partners continue to watch international experiments closely, as they develop, to identify what lessons can be learned.

Why are these four Councils being supported to explore the feasibility of CBI?

Independently of each other, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, and North Ayrshire had begun to explore the feasibility of undertaking local pilots of CBI. The four local authorities are now working together to explore the feasibility of CBI in Scotland before making any decisions about proceeding to a pilot in their local area. The four local authorities are being supported by NHS Health Scotland (now Public Health Scotland), the Improvement Service and Scottish Government

How do I find out more about what is planned?

This website is the primary source of information on work to explore the feasibility of pilots of CBI in Scotland. The website will be updated as the project develops

Which areas of Scotland will receive money as part of the Scottish CBI Pilot?

The Scottish CBI Feasibility Study is now complete. Following formal endorsement by partner local authorities, the final report will be submitted to Scottish Government for consideration on whether to progress to pilot implementation, and in which areas.

How will you decide which areas/groups participate in the pilot?

The Scottish CBI Feasibility Study is now complete. Following formal endorsement by partner local authorities, the final report will be submitted to Scottish Government for consideration on whether to progress to pilot implementation, and in which areas.

The final feasibility study report outlines a proposed model for a CBI pilot and the sample sizes required to undertake a robust pilot study. The study would identify a list of potential areas and then select two areas at random to take part in the pilot, one receiving the high level of CBI, the other the low level. These areas would be compared to a similar area that did not receive the CBI to identify the effects of the payment. Everybody in the pilot areas would receive the CBI.