Glasgow, Scotland. (Michel Curi / CC BY 2.0)

Now that Scotland will have more power over its finances, the councils of Glasgow and Fife are eager to try out an economic plan already running successfully in parts of Finland, the Netherlands, Africa, India and Canada: universal basic income.

Proponents of the concept, which would allow the state to allot a set amount of money to all inhabitants of a given place regardless of income, understand that it would require a significant shift in social thinking. However, Glaswegian Councillor Matt Kerr insists, “It’s a time to be testing out new — or rather old — ideas for a welfare system that genuinely supports independence.”

While Kerr means the time is ripe in Scotland with the upcoming transfer of powers to the Scottish government from the United Kingdom’s Parliament, plenty of others outside of the British nation are starting to look to bold economic alternatives such as this.

From The Guardian:

Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017. … The concept of a universal basic income revolves around the idea of offering every individual, regardless of existing welfare benefits or earned income, a non-conditional flat-rate payment, with any income earned above that taxed progressively. The intention is to provide a basic economic platform on which people can build their lives, whether they choose to earn, learn, care or set up a business.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has suggested that it is likely to appear in his party’s next manifesto, while there has been a groundswell of interest among anti-poverty groups who see it as a means of changing not only the relationship between people and the state, but between workers and increasingly insecure employment in the gig economy. … Kerr accepts that, while he is hopeful of cross-party support in Glasgow, there are “months of work ahead”, including first arranging a feasibility study in order to present a strong enough evidence base for a pilot. “But if there is ever a case to be made then you need to test it in a place like Glasgow, with the sheer numbers and levels of health inequality. If you can make it work here then it can work anywhere.”

The idea has its roots in 16th-century humanist philosophy, when it was developed by the likes of Thomas More, but in its modern incarnation it has lately enjoyed successful pilots in India and Africa.

Read more.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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