New report sets out lessons for a Scottish Basic Income pilot

January 29, 2019

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A new report published today by the Carnegie UK Trust sets out the key questions to be addressed to pave the way for a successful basic income pilot in Scotland.

The report, written by the Scottish Basic Income Steering Group, highlights learning from basic income pilots underway or in planning in Finland, Ontario and the Netherlands, compiled from discussions with representatives at the Basic Income Earth Network 2018 World Congress.

A basic income is the concept of regular, unconditional payments made to all citizens, regardless of whether they are employed or seeking work. Its supporters believe basic income would provide a safety net and reduce poverty; minimise social security bureaucracy; and allow people greater freedom to choose to work, learn, train, volunteer, care, or start a business.

There has been an upsurge of interest in basic income globally. In 2017, the local authorities in Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow and North Ayrshire formed a Scottish Basic Income Steering Group to advance their shared interest in piloting basic income as a means of tackling poverty and inequality.

The Carnegie UK Trust is supportive of efforts to undertake a basic income pilot in Scotland in order to understand the potential positive and negative effects of the policy. As part of their ongoing Scottish-Government funded feasibility study scoping out how a successful pilot could be undertaken in Scotland, Carnegie UK Trust funding has enabled the Scottish Basic Income Steering Group to produce this international learning report.

Its 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 specific political and institutional context.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, says:

“The work of the Basic Income Steering Group places Scotland in the forefront of countries giving serious consideration to whether basic income is a viable and feasible means of combatting poverty and inequality. Basic income is largely untested, and very different from how the UK has developed social protection and social security for over 70 years. Basic income also confounds many of the current social and policy expectations around benefit conditionality, particularly related to the availability for work. It is critical that any basic income pilot is thoughtfully designed and evaluated so both its potential positive and any negative impacts can be properly examined. We must also take the opportunity to study and learn from the latest international practice. We are therefore very pleased to have supported the development of this report. It makes an excellent contribution to our store of knowledge about the challenges of piloting basic income. I hope it brings the possibility of a genuine pilot several steps closer.”

Wendy Hearty, Project Manager for the Scottish Citizens Basic Income Feasibility Study Steering Group, commented:

“We are grateful to the Carnegie UK Trust for supporting the international study visit to BIEN Congress 2018, Tampere. We welcome the timely publication of this report as we continue to work to establish the feasibility of a meaningful and ethical citizens’ basic income pilot in Scotland.

“We are aware that the policy is untested and whilst we are taking into account evidence from previous pilots of basic income type schemes, we are keen to learn from contemporary trials worldwide. The lessons learned in regards to framing, design, implementation, evaluation and communication of a pilot will help ensure that our project is informed by key insights from trials in Finland, the Netherlands, Ontario, and beyond. This report is a crucial building block in informing the feasibility of a CBI pilot in Scotland.”

Read the report here.

For further information, contact [email protected]