Far too many people are living with the constant pressure of poverty. Even before coronavirus, around a million people in Scotland were in poverty, living precarious and insecure lives and relying on foodbanks.
Research shows that bringing in a Universal Basic Income could alleviate poverty and reduce inequality, as well as strengthen individual citizenship. It is fair, it de-stigmatises the recipient and people are paid regardless of their circumstances.
Introducing a basic income pilot would be a good first step in strengthening the UK social security system after the Tories spent a decade dismantling it, and could prevent people from falling into, or further into, hardship and debt for years to come.
That is why I am urging the UK government to work with the Scottish Government to introduce this pilot in Scotland. A basic income pilot in Scotland is desirable but can only be done with the full co-operation and collaboration of HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions and the UK government must guarantee that.
The coronavirus crisis has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities, as well as the shortcomings of the UK Government’s welfare system. It is time the Tories at Westminster look at new potential solutions to tackling poverty instead of blocking them, making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
First ever parliamentary debate on UBI back in 2016:
Joseph Rowntree Foundation ‘Poverty in Scotland’ report: