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Today marks the start of Challenge Poverty Week 2018 (1st – 8th October). Co-ordinated by the Poverty Alliance, #ChallengePoverty week is a chance to talk about how we can solve poverty by building on the values of compassion and justice.

A Basic Income is one policy which could contribute to reducing poverty and inequality. Proponents argue that a basic income aims to give secure incomes and provide an economic base on which people can build their lives, whether they choose to earn, learn, care for others or set up a business.

In its Programme for Government in September 2017, the Scottish Government announced a fund to support four Scottish local authorities to explore the feasibility of a basic income – Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow and North Ayrshire. Since the announcement in May 2018 confirming the support, the four local authority areas have commenced a programme of work to investigate how pilots could be designed and run in Scotland. The local authorities are being supported by NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government, and the Improvement Service.

A key driver for exploring basic income in Scotland is to reduce poverty and inequality, however a basic income can also impact on a range of other outcomes. The Steering Group – comprising of the above partners – have identified a range of short and long term intended outcomes of a basic income pilot which include areas such as income, poverty, labour market participation, health, stigma, community participation, education and service use outcomes.

The extent to which these potential outcomes can be achieved are dependent upon the design of a pilot model. The Steering Group are currently investigating a range of potential pilot models that not only satisfy policy objectives, but are also designed in a way which ensure a robust evaluation can be carried out.

The next step for the Steering Group is to commission research to support the design of potential pilots. Alongside discussions with the Scottish Government, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), this research will allow the Steering Group to clarify and describe the preferred pilot model option(s) to be proposed to the Scottish Government. The four local authorities realise that at a time of persistent and stubborn poverty and inequalities within our communities, we need to explore innovative policy ideas.

Findings of the Scottish Basic Income Feasibility Study will be presented to the Scottish Government in March 2020 and in the meantime regular updates will be provided by the partners at http://basicincome.scot 

For more information on #ChallengePoverty week see www.challengepoverty.net