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From L/R back row: Cllr David Ross (Fife Council), Cllr Joe Cullinane (North Ayrshire Council) Front row: Cllr David Alexander (Fife Council), Cllr Alex Gallagher (North Ayrshire Council), Cllr Judy Hamilton (Fife Council), Cllr Marie Burns (North Ayrshire Council), Cllr Cammy Day (City of Edinburgh Council), Cllr Gavin Corbett (City of Edinburgh Council), Cllr Allan Young (Glasgow City Council).

MOVES to look at innovative ways of providing Scots with a basic income came a step closer today (Friday).

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 in their areas. 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.

Today political representatives from all four councils came together for the first time to discuss the plans and timescales associated with the project. The design phase is expected to take between 12 and 18 months and will be led by the steering group. The practicalities of taking forward a basic income pilot will be explored, including how it might be funded and how payments could be made. Scottish partners will continue to watch international experiments closely as they develop to see what lessons can be learned.

Co-Leaders of Fife Council Cllrs 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.”

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “We are delighted to be part of this innovative partnership exploring the feasibility of a Scottish basic income pilot. In March 2017, we agreed funding for a basic income pilot as part of a wider package of support to reduce inequalities in North Ayrshire through our Fair for All Strategy.

“There is no escaping the fact that North Ayrshire is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, however, we are committed to exploring new ideas and ways of working to reduce poverty and inequality across our communities and achieve inclusive growth.”

Glasgow City Council City Treasurer Cllr Allan Gow said: “While the feasibility of a basic income still needs to be established, what is absolutely clear is that the current UK welfare system isn’t capable of meeting people’s real needs.

“It is undoubtedly positive that local authorities are working together – across parties and with the support of the Scottish Government – to try and find something better.”

Depute Leader, Cllr Cammy Day, the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “In my role as Poverty Champion we will bring forward proposals in the coming months including important new partnerships across the city. This will be key to raising people out of poverty and by working with other councils on the project we can work towards achieving this nationally as well.”

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.

Picture caption:

From L/R back row: Cllr David Ross (Fife Council), Cllr Joe Cullinane (North Ayrshire Council)

Front row: Cllr David Alexander (Fife Council), Cllr Alex Gallagher (North Ayrshire Council), Cllr Judy Hamilton (Fife Council), Cllr Marie Burns (North Ayrshire Council), Cllr Cammy Day (City of Edinburgh Council), Cllr Gavin Corbett (City of Edinburgh Council), Cllr Allan Young (Glasgow City Council).