5 ideas from the launch of Scotland’s Basic Income Network

Nathanael Williams

CommonSpace looks at what came out of the launch of Scotland’s first Basic Income think tank

AT the weekend [Saturday 26th November] campaigners, economists, charities and academics gathered in Glasgow to talk about how best to implement a basic income in Scotland and the benefits and challenges it could bring.

The new Scottish organisation, Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland (CBINS) launched to promote the idea of basic income (BI) in Scotland.

The basic income is a form of social security through which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or a social organisation. Advocates have stated that it could solve problems including unemployment, lack of productivity and falling living standards and ensure a healthy work/life balance.

We breakdown the discussions at the event.

A demand for political will

Many of the advocates of a BI state that it would be very easy to implement by government, but requires political parties to be committed to the policy and effectively communicate its purpose to the public. Organisations like the Gal Gael Trust, which provides training and support for vulnerable people, claim that given the rise in inequality and job insecurity the BI would be an ideal solution.

An underpinning for progressive politics 

Charities such as the Royal Scottish Academy in Scotland who attended the conference stressed that they did not see the BI as a perfect solution to all problems of poverty and inequality but that it would be a starting point. Having an unconditional payment, they say, would allow the government to simplify its welfare processes and focus on other areas of policy to tackle social ills.

A way to enhance gender equality

The conference noted examples of the use of basic income around the world. For example in India during regional trials of the basic income there was a marked improvement in the financial autonomy of women. In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh from June 2011 to November 2012 a universal, unconditional and individual monthly grant was given to every adult and child in selected villages.

In total, about 6,000 men, women and children in nine villages in Madhya Pradesh received the transfer each month for a year and a half. By the end of the project, 55 per cent of respondents in basic income (BI) villages said that they shared earnings equally, compared to 36 per cent in non-BI villages.

MPs support

SNP MP Ronnie Cowan for Inverclyde attended the event and gave his support to the CBINS and their work. Earlier in the year he co-sponsored an early day motion in the House of Commons, calling on the UK Government to commission more research into a basic income for UK communities. The motion has 35 signatures including SNP MP Mhairi Black and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Glasgow to get a basic income!

During the conference, it was revealed by Labour Cllr Matt Kerr that councillors in Glasgow are working towards a pilot scheme for its own BI.

Picture courtesy of Paul Buxton

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