SNP MPs will today lead a Westminster Hall debate on the introduction of a Universal Basic Income – saying it is indefensible for the Tories to obstruct this potential solution to poverty after imposing a decade of brutal austerity policies.
The SNP has repeatedly called for the UK government to introduce a basic income pilot in Scotland to ensure a strong and fair economic and social recovery
The Scottish Government confirmed on 21 May 2018 it would provide £250,000 over two years to support the undertaking of a feasibility study for a UBI pilot in Scotland and has urged UK ministers to engage with them on this, given welfare and tax powers remain at Westminster. The UK government has so far refused.
The Senedd Cymru has also passed a motion calling for a Universal Basic Income Trial in Wales.
Commenting, Ronnie Cowan MP, who has sponsored the debate and will be taking part, said: “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.”