Nicola Sturgeon announces funding of Universal Basic Income trials

The Scottish Government will fund research into the concept of providing all citizens with a Universal Basic Income, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announed yesterday.

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

Formerly a fringe idea favoured by left-wing economists at Liberal institutions in America, the idea of a basic income has gained traction in recent years as fears grow over depressed wage growth and the rise of automation.

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Speaking in Holyrood yesterday, while announcing the SNP’s “Programme for Government”, the First Minister said she would work with councils to potentially fund trial schemes.

Ms Sturgeon said: “One idea that is attracting interest, not just here but internationally, is that of a citizens basic income. Contemplating such a scheme inevitably raises a number of practical issues and questions, not least around the Parliament’s current powers, and undoubtedly there are arguments for and against.

“However, as we look ahead to the next decade and beyond, it is an idea that merits deeper consideration. I therefore confirm that the Scottish Government will work with interested local authorities to fund research into the concept and the feasibility of a citizens basic income, to help to inform Parliament’s thinking for the future.”

The idea is mooted as giving every citizen, regardless of other circumstances, a set amount of money per month.

Supporters say it could stimulate the economy by giving people more money to spend, while detractors point to the huge potential cost, and argue it could lead to a something for nothing culture.

There is currently a trial ongoing in Finland, which sees 2000 unemployed people receive nearly £500 a month, which continues even if they find work.