SNP makes renewed call for universal basic income to be introduced

The SNP has made a renewed call for the UK Government to introduce a universal basic income (UBI), after Spain announced it would roll out such a scheme “as soon as possible” to mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus.

Ian Blackford has repeatedly argued for the UK Government to introduce a form of universal basic income

Ian Blackford, the Nationalists’ leader at Westminster, said using the welfare system to introduce a guaranteed income for all would address “gaps” in the current support on offer to individuals.

The SNP MP has consistently called for such a measure since the coronavirus crisis began.

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But the Treasury said a flat rate UBI would not take into account people’s circumstances and the additional needs and costs faced by some individuals - meaning it would not target support where it was most needed.

The Spanish Government confirmed last week that it was working to roll out UBI as soon as possible, as part of a wider package of support for ordinary people.

Spain is dealing with the second worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with its economy having effectively ground to a halt.

Mr Blackford said: “The UK Government must reconsider its knee-jerk opposition to introducing a guaranteed minimum income for everyone, which would be the simplest way to ensure no one is left behind during the coronavirus crisis.

“There are serious gaps in the current UK system - and millions of people are not getting the financial support they need. A guaranteed minimum income for everyone would fix these gaps and put cash in people’s pockets.

“The coronavirus crisis has exposed the deep flaws in UK government policy and the inequality that is rife in our society. This would be a key measure that could be continued for the long-term as part of the enduring fundamental change needed to ensure a strong recovery and build a fairer society that supports all our people.

A spokesman for Treasury told The Scotsman: “We are taking unprecedented action at unprecedented speed to support businesses, jobs and our economy, including an initial £330bn of guarantees.

“We’ve made significant changes to the operation of statutory sick pay, universal credit, and employment and support allowance to ensure that people have quicker and more generous access to a support system. And we’ve taken further immediate steps to give businesses access to cash to pay their rent, salaries or suppliers.

“These measures will support millions of people to get through the current crisis and emerge on the other side, strong and more united.”

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