Universal Basic Income is a form of social security in which every citizen will regularly receive money from a government or other public institution, unconditionally. Universal Basic Income should definitely not be confused with Universal Credit, which is the current benefit system in the UK, an arguably very flawed system. Universal or Citizen’s Basic Income, both being the same thing, is a solution many people who wish to reform the benefit system look to as the answer. If this is your first time hearing of Basic Income, then be prepared as you are likely to be hearing a lot more about it over the coming years, because both Glasgow City Council and Fife Council are looking to trial a Basic Income.
Glasgow City Council is funding a feasibility study into Basic Income. Phase one of this study will be research and workshop, looking into potential models for a pilot, and producing a shortlist of design approaches which could be taken. Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland is a non-party political organisation which aims to give a Scottish view of Basic Income and they have been instrumental in the announcement of a Glasgow Pilot of Basic Income.
CBINS Trustee Ben Simmons a writer and activist he said: “Obviously the people with the least benefit the most but you cant just look at that with the pilot, so the aim is to target that threshold group and show how it influences people behaviours, so you have to look at the people who will be most effected, the people in and out of the poverty trap, people on zero hour contracts trying to navigate the benefit system when their employers wont give them hours, they are the group who will make or break Basic Income.”
Another group promoting Basic Income is Extra Second, who have been running events to spread information about it. Johnny Cypher who organises the Events said: “The people that would benefit the most are people who are actively involved in their local communities whether that be independent Cafe owners or activists and artists for example, Theres a case to be made for how it will help a lot of different groups of people, Women in care work and full time mothers especially as Jen Broadhurst argue’s, for me personally it is a boost to people who are involved in activism and helping their local area’s, it allows them to focus on the work they find valuable without having to worry about how they’re getting food on their plates.”
Having a Basic Income would give people security this would be ideal for people who are unable to work because they are for example carers. They are already doing working, that is important but they are just not getting paid for that work. Simmons said: “If I had children and I paid some else to look after my children I would pay them to do that because that is considered a skill worthy of payment, but if I look after my children, all of a sudden it is not worth funding it’s not seen as valuable. It is the same with caring, if somebody is looking after my mum, then it’s they’re work, its paid work and there is nothing wrong with that, but if I look after my mum, but if were to do that then it’s not paid I would be expected to do that for free, with no recognition of the fact that if I wasn’t doing it then somebody else would have to pay for it. So much activity is useful and would be paid for if someone else was doing it, but its like you are cutting out the middle man and suddenly that work is valueless. “
Some people believe that having a Universal Basic Income could have a positive effect on our economy, Simmons said: “Currently when a community is in high unemployment that reduces the amount of money being spent there, and local businesses won’t be getting enough money to start taking on more staff to grow and expand”
After the Feasibility Study has been completed we will have a better idea of exactly how the Basic Income Model for Glasgow’s Citizens will look. Whether or not Basic Income becomes the permanent solution to the to reforming the benefits system in the UK is yet to be seen, but having a trial of the system in Glasgow will be a unique and exciting contribution to the debate.
If you would like to find out more about Basic Income the next Extra Second UBI Event will be on the 24th May at Cafe Fika, this event will focus on a women’s perspective of UBI. It will have an all female line up of speakers and performers, and will be hosted by Molly McLachlan.