Benefits of basic income to be explored in local event

Caitlin Logan

Common Weal East Lothian will host event with basic income experts

AN EVENT exploring the feasibility of a universal basic income with input from experts will be hosted by Common Weal East Lothian on 12 October.  

Speaking at the event will be Anne G Miller, author of the recently published A Basic Income Handbook, and trustee of the Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland, alongside Dr Craig Dalzell, head of research at the Common Weal think tank.

Universal basic income, sometimes referred to as a citizen’s income, or simply basic income, is a tax-exempt, unconditional income provided by the government to every citizen, as a form of social security.

As part of the new Programme for Government, the Scottish Government announced this month that it will provide funding for research and testing of the initiative in pilot local authorities.

READ MORE: Basic income advocates welcome discussion after @scotgov announces research funding

The aim of the event, to be held in the Bleachingfield Centre in Dunbar, is to offer participants the chance to learn more about the subject and put questions to the experts.

Jim Fraser of Common Weal East Lothian said: “The idea of a basic citizen’s income is a hot topic just now.

“Is it an ingenious and far-sighted solution to how society will mitigate the problems of people whose jobs will soon be taken over by robots, or is it a scroungers’ charter for the feckless?

“Many people still have questions and concerns about how such a scheme would work in practice, how it could be costed and what impact it would have on the drive for people to find work.

“I would urge everyone to come along no matter how knowledgeable, or sceptical you are on the subject. This is a chance to ask questions and get informed.

“If you support UBI in principle and are keen to spread the word, this will give you the information you need to address the concerns of others.”

The move by the Scottish Government comes as support for the idea has grown in recent years, with local councils in Glasgow, Fife and Edinburgh are proposing their own pilot schemes, and the development of a Citizen’s Basic Income Network in Scotland .

Trials of a universal basic income are underway in Finland, the Netherlands and Canada.

“The UK’s welfare system is meagre at best and outright punitive at worst and Scotland is right now well placed to consider its options.” Dr Craig Dalzell, Common Weal

Hillary Clinton’s recently published memoir reveals that she considered proposing a basic income as part of her platform before concluding that she “couldn’t make the numbers work”, although, she wrote: “I wonder now whether we should have thrown caution to the wind and figured out the details later.”

Dr Craig Dalzell will speak at the event on behalf of Common Weal, which has researched and advocated for a universal basic income for some time. Dalzell authored the organisation’s social security report, published in August, which recommends a basic income for an independent Scotland.

Ahead of the event, Dalzell said: “The UK’s welfare system is meagre at best and outright punitive at worst and Scotland is right now well placed to consider its options for improvement so that we can build a social security system worthy of the name.

“Common Weal recently published a paper on those options and we culminated in presenting the case for a Universal Basic Income.

“The principles on which our social security system is underpinned must be understood as we develop our policies and I’m delighted to have been invited to this event to discuss them.”

The event is free to attend but a donation can be made upon registration.

Picture courtesy of James Cridland

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