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There is a sense in many developed countries around the world that our social security systems – complex, under pressure, and subject to widespread public suspicion – are no longer fit for purpose. The Scottish Citizen’s Basic Income Steering Group were commissioned by Carnegie UK Trust to produce an international learning report drawing on insights from around the globe to explore the practicalities that we will need to consider in Scotland in designing a basic income pilot.  Learn more about the Scottish Citizen’s Basic Income Feasibility Study here.

Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress

There are several CBI pilots which have recently completed, are underway or in planning in Finland, the Netherlands, Barcelona, USA, Kenya, and until recently, Canada (pilot cancelled July 2018). As part of our work on feasibility, we are keen to explore what lessons can be learned from activity underway in countries that, as advanced post-industrial economies with a developed welfare state, can be considered as relevant comparators to Scotland. To this end we embarked on an international study visit to Tampere, Finland in August 2018 to participate in the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress 2018. The visit was funded by the Carnegie UK Trust.

The event brought together academics, policymakers and advocates from around the world, granting insight into the activities, successes and challenges of developing and implementing pilots. This provided a unique opportunity to engage with international colleagues working on developing, designing, implementing and evaluating pilots. Through our participation in the Congress, we were able to develop case studies on the areas where pilots have recently taken place: Finland (pilot ending December 2018), the Netherlands and Ontario, Canada.

About the Report

Exploring the Practicalities of a Basic Income Pilot outlines our insights from our study visit to BIEN Congress 2018.  It details the key considerations for Scotland that we gained from our participation and from discussion with those taking forward activity in other areas – particularly Finland, Netherlands and Ontario, Canada.

It provides background to the international study trip; explores why it might be useful to undertake a pilot of CBI; outlines the areas of feasibility we are focusing on; presents case studies highlighting the key characteristics of areas where pilots are currently underway and highlights key insights from this activity that can inform our present exploration of the feasibility of a CBI pilot in Scotland.

This report is not intended to be a full reflection of the CBI debate as it was explored at BIEN 2018, but to shine a light on some of the key insights we gained from this study trip, asking: what lessons can Scotland learn from international basic income pilots.

We were keen to focus on practical lessons for CBI pilots as much as possible rather than theoretical debate about the concept of a basic income.  This review of international pilots concludes that there is no ‘one size fits all,’ approach to piloting basic income. It makes a series of recommendations around pilot framing, design, implementation, evaluation and communication, in order for a pilot to be delivered successfully within Scotland’s political and institutional context.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, says:

“The work of the Basic Income Steering Group places Scotland in the forefront of countries giving serious consideration whether basic income is a viable and feasible means of combatting poverty and inequality. Basic income is largely untested, and very different from how the UK has developed social protection and social security for over 70 years. Basic income also confounds many of the current social and policy expectations around benefit conditionality, particularly related the availability for work. It is critical that any basic income pilot is thoughtfully designed and evaluated so both its potential positive and any negative impacts can be properly examined. We must also take the opportunity to study and learn from the latest international practice. We are therefore very pleased to have supported the development of this report. It makes an excellent contribution to our store of knowledge about the challenges of piloting basic income. I hope it brings the possibility of a genuine pilot several steps closer.”

Wendy Hearty, Project Manager for the Scottish Citizens Basic Income Feasibility Study Steering Group, commented:

“We are grateful to the Carnegie UK Trust for supporting the international study visit to BIEN Congress 2018, Tampere. We welcome the timely publication of this report as we continue to work to establish the feasibility of a meaningful and ethical citizen’s basic income pilot in Scotland.

We are aware that the policy is untested and whilst we are taking into account evidence from previous pilots of basic income type schemes, we are keen to learn from contemporary trials worldwide. The lessons learned in regards to framing, design, implementation, evaluation and communication of a pilot will help ensure that our project is informed by key insights from trials in Finland, the Netherlands, Ontario, and beyond. This report is a crucial building block in informing the feasibility of a CBI pilot in Scotland.”

Further Information

The full report ‘Exploring the practicalities of a basic income pilot’ was published by Carnegie UK Trust on 29 January 2019 and is available here

Regular updates on the feasibility work will be posted on Basic Income Scotland and @BasicIncomeScot

Contact: basic.income@improvementservice.org.uk