What lessons can Scotland learn from international Basic Income pilots?

February 5, 2019

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By Mhairi Paterson, Basic Income Policy Officer at North Ayrshire Council

This week, the Carnegie UK Trust published a new report ‘Exploring the Practicalities of a Basic Income Pilot: Insights from around the Globe.’ In this blog Mhairi Paterson, Basic Income Policy Officer at North Ayrshire Council and one of the report authors, outlines the key ideas in the report and how it feeds into the ongoing Basic Income pilot feasibility work being undertaken in Scotland.


There is a sense in many developed countries around the world that our social security systems – complex, under pressure, and subject to widespread public suspicion – are no longer fit for purpose. The Scottish Citizen’s Basic Income Steering Group were commissioned by Carnegie UK Trust to produce an international learning report drawing on insights from around the globe to explore the practicalities that we will need to consider in Scotland in designing a basic income pilot. Learn more about the Scottish Basic Income Feasibility Study here.


Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress

There are several ‘Citizens Basic Income’ (CBI) pilots which have recently completed, are underway or in planning in Finland, the Netherlands, Barcelona, USA, Kenya, and until recently, Canada (pilot cancelled July 2018). As part of our work on feasibility, we are keen to explore what lessons can be learned from activity underway in countries that, as advanced post-industrial economies with a developed welfare state, can be considered as relevant comparators to Scotland. To this end we embarked on an international study visit to Tampere, Finland in August 2018 to participate in the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress 2018. The visit was funded by the Carnegie UK Trust.

The event brought together academics, policymakers and advocates from around the world, granting insight into the activities, successes and challenges of developing and implementing pilots. This provided a unique opportunity to engage with international colleagues working on developing, designing, implementing and evaluating pilots. Through our participation in the Congress, we were able to develop case studies on the areas where pilots have recently taken place: Finland (pilot ended December 2018), the Netherlands and Ontario, Canada.

About the Report

Exploring the Practicalities of a Basic Income Pilot outlines our insights from our study visit to BIEN Congress 2018. It details the key considerations for Scotland that we gained from our participation and from discussion with those taking forward activity in other areas – particularly Finland, Netherlands and Ontario, Canada.

It provides background to the international study trip; explores why it might be useful to undertake a pilot of CBI; outlines the areas of feasibility we are focusing on; presents case studies highlighting the key characteristics of areas where pilots are currently underway and highlights key insights from this activity that can inform our present exploration of the feasibility of a CBI pilot in Scotland.

This report is not intended to be a full reflection of the CBI debate as it was explored at BIEN 2018, but to shine a light on some of the key insights we gained from this study trip, asking: what lessons can Scotland learn from international basic income pilots.

We were keen to focus on practical lessons for CBI pilots as much as possible rather than theoretical debate about the concept of a basic income. This review of international pilots concludes that there is no ‘one size fits all,’ approach to piloting basic income. It makes a series of recommendations around pilot framing, design, implementation, evaluation and communication, in order for a pilot to be delivered successfully within Scotland’s political and institutional context.

Further Information

The full report ‘Exploring the practicalities of a basic income pilot’ was published by Carnegie UK Trust on 29 January 2019 and is available here

Regular updates on the feasibility work be undertaken in Scotland will be posted on http://basicincome.scot/ and @BasicIncomeScot

Contact: [email protected]