In Brief

Scotland to trial universal basic income

Officials discuss how to trial radical scheme replacing benefits with one flat-rate payment

Scotland could roll out universal basic income (UBI) after a proposed trial won huge backing.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Scotland to look at something quite radical," Jamie Cooke, the head of the Royal Society of Arts Scotland, said.

Scottish councillors, civil servants and members of the Scottish Basic Income Network, which campaigns for the introduction of the system, are today discussing how to develop the scheme for a trial in Fife, reports The National. UBI tests are already taking place in the Netherlands and Canada and further schemes are planned in Norway and Sweden.

The scheme replaces all benefits with a flat-rate payment to all residents of the city, regardless of their means and circumstances. 

Any income earned above the payment will be taxed at either a single flat rate or progressively.

"Supporters of UBI believe it could assist in creating a fairer welfare system that is easier to decipher," says The Independent

"Many hope it will also give people who find themselves out of work a safety net, allowing them to have an income while caring for relatives or while retraining for a new career."

It is also argued that UBI would deliver substantial savings for the UK government due to the simplicity of its administration, while a poll found two-thirds of the UK public look favourably on the scheme.

In addition, experts think UBI is the long-term solution to automation in the workplace by providing a decent standard of living for all while machines take up jobs and boost economic efficiency.

Critics argue, however, it removes the incentive for unemployed people to find work and so is detrimental for the economy.

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