Ronnie Cowan MP (SNP) is to attend and participate in an event organised by Citizens Basic Income Network Scotland (CBINS) which will discuss the issue of introducing a basic income in Scotland. The event will take place on Saturday 28th January at Kelty Community Centre.
A Basic Income (Citizen’s Income or Universal Grant) is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship. Similar to a. Child Benefit, it is for everyone, and is tax-exempt.
Mr Cowan has previously discussed the topic with representatives of Citizen’s Income Trust, RSA and Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland. Mr Cowan led a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 14th September and recently raised the matter with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Speaking in advance of the event, Mr Cowan said;
“If you had a blank sheet of paper and were asked to design a welfare system nobody, but nobody, would come up with the system that we have now.
“We are spending 28% of our total public expenditure on social security, but it’s still not clear whether our welfare system is helping or hindering the most vulnerable people in our society.
“A universal basic income is an idea which has been considered in various forms for over two hundred years. Luminaries such as Abraham Lincoln and Dr Martin Luther King have supported the concept as a way of helping alleviate poverty and providing society with a safety net.
“Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay a limited number of unemployed citizens an unconditional monthly sum and a child benefit Other countries such as Canada, USA and the Netherlands are piloting schemes. I think it is vital that we assess its suitability for Scotland.”
“I believe a universal basic income is an idea whose time has come and hope this event will facilitate more discussion on the subject.”
Ben Simmons, Trustee, Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland, added;
“We are delighted to have representation from a number of political parties united behind realising the benefit of a basic income for a range of individuals across Fife. Driven by a common desire to improve the quality of life not just for the poorest but for all of us in society this appetite for progressive welfare reform brings out the best in our political system through cross-party cooperation.
“The crucial next step is raising awareness amongst the general public of the transformational change to their lives and life chances a basic income would bring about.
“Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland is committed to tackling this challenge, and events like the forthcoming Fife discussion play an essential part.”