Giving every adult in Scotland a sum of £2,400 per year as a form of ‘basic income’ could have the effect of largely eradicating destitution across the country.
That’s according to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA), which has published a new report on the subject.
The charity wants to see the Scottish government carrying out pilot schemes based around the idea of distributing specific sums of money to all adults throughout the country regardless of their circumstances.
Eventually a basic income scheme should be used to effectively replace the current benefits system and give every adult £4,800 on an annual basis, the RSA says in its report.
“Child destitution would vanish almost immediately”, if the basic income were to be introduced, according to the RSA’s report.
Describing the existing Universal Credit benefits system as having been “discredited”, Jamie Cooke, the head of RSA Scotland, said recently that ideas around universal basic income have been met with considerable support from the Scottish public.
“Our research shows how an initial basic income could be introduced in Scotland in a way that is progressive, affordable and would halve destitution, while paving the way for a full basic income in the future,” he said.
“But the idea must be tested – and our engagement with Scottish citizens found support for experimenting against today’s discredited Universal Credit system, which is why we suggest a robust stepping stone before a ‘full’ basic income is introduced,” he added.
Basic income pilot schemes already have the backing of the Labour Party’s current shadow chancellor in Westminster John McDonnell but Mr Cooke from RSA Scotland has called for cross-party agreement on the issue in Holyrood regardless of the views on the subject among politicians in London.
“Basic income is increasingly of global interest and Scotland is at the brink of doing something very different and bringing the first basic income pilots to the UK,” he said.
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