Fife at forefront of plan for Basic Income pilot

Councillors meet to discuss plans for basic income pilots
Councillors meet to discuss plans for basic income pilots

Moves to look at innovative ways of providing Fifers with a basic income without the need for paying out additional benefits have come a step closer.

Basic income pilots are already running successfully in countries including Finland, Netherlands and Canada.

Although there are many different models, the aim is to promote fairness and provide people with a basic income they can use whether they want to earn, learn, care, or set up a business.

Four Scottish councils are now working together to explore the feasibility of basic income pilots.

With funding from the Scottish Government, Fife, North Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City Councils will test the waters in a bid to tackle inequality, and provide widespread economic security.

A steering group involving representatives from all four councils, the Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland is taking forward the work.

Political representatives from all four councils met for the first time to discuss the plans and timescales.

The design phase is expected to take between 12 and 18 months and will be led by the steering group.

They will explore the practicalities of taking forward a basic income pilot, including how it might be funded and how payments could be made.

Fife Council’s co-Leaders, Councillors David Ross and David Alexander, welcomed the partnership working that has led to plans getting to this stage.

Cllr Ross commented: “It’s unacceptable in the 21st century that so many people continue to live in poverty and innovative projects like this can help make a difference.

“The need for a basic income pilot in Fife was identified through the Fairer Fife Commission, one of 40 recommendations that will help us create a fairer and more equal society.”

Cllr Alexander added: “While plans for these pilots are still at an early stage it’s incredibly encouraging that the Scottish Government is backing this project and so many organisations are involved in collaborative working towards a common aim.”

Next steps include a joint funding bid to the Scottish Government’s Citizen’s Basic Income Feasibility Fund on March 29. It’s hoped that £250,000 will be awarded to fund the feasibility work and design phase of the project over the next two years.

The four local authorities will then report back to the Scottish Government on their findings in September 2019 before a final decision on the pilots will be made.