Nicola Sturgeon mocked for ‘disingenuous’ plan to hand every Scot £11,000 a year
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UBI which has been backed by Nicola Sturgeon would see every citizen provided with guaranteed payments no matter what their circumstances are. A study commissioned by the First Minister recommended that Scots are paid £11,000 a year as part of a £186 million experiment.
It suggests that this could be co-delivered in a three year pilot by the Scottish and UK Governments alongside local authorities.
Councils in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife and North Ayrshire worked on the research for two years with NHS Health Scotland, now part of Public Health Scotland, and the Improvement Service, which supports local authorities.
The Scottish government provided £250,000 for the project and have said that a three-year pilot will provide a better understanding of how an income could impact on poverty, unemployment, health and financial wellbeing.
But Holyrood does not have the powers to introduce a universal basic income on its own because the majority of welfare and tax responsibilities are still reserved to Westminster.
The Scottish Conservatives said that the plans would be “unworkable” and have questioned the £186m cost.
Councillor Tony Miklinski, leader of the Conservative group on Fife Council, told The Courier: “This is going to cost £186m in a post-covid environment so unless we can identify a realistic option of paying for it, presumably through taxation, the level of finance needed… if you scale it up to Scotland, the numbers are eye-watering.
“If we as politicians can’t see a way of affording the costs then we are disingenuous at the very best to be taking a pilot forward.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also told MPs that the UK government was “not in favour of a universal basic income”, and had “strengthened the safety net for the most vulnerable” by investing in the existing welfare system.
But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said of UBI: “I am a supporter of [UBI], I have long been interested in the concept, I think the case for it has been immeasurably strengthened by the crisis we’re living through.
The calls to fund UBI however comes after Scottish ministers warned that the economy faces financial ruin fearing they could run out of money.
Ms Sturgeon called on the Treasury to extend financial support for workers and businesses, saying the alternative risks a surge in coronavirus cases or more job losses.
She warned that a UK drop in GDP of more than 20 percent in April “confirms the scale of the economic crisis that has inevitably been caused by the health crisis we face”.
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She added: “It is now time to signal a further extension of Treasury support.
“Other countries have already made this move, including France where plans are being put in place for a long-term partial activities scheme covering possibly as long as the next two years.”
Her calls were also backed by Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes who warned there was a £500million hole between the extra cost of the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding given to Scotland from Westminster.
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