In her speech to Hollyrood that sets out the SNP's 'Programme for Government' Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish Government would work with
'interested local authorities to fund research into the concept and feasibility of a citizens’ basic income, to help inform Parliament’s thinking for the future.'
'While we must take a range of actions now to tackle poverty, we should also consider options for more fundamental reform in the longer term.'
Universal Basic Income or Citizen's Income is a standard payment made to all citizens regardless of employment. It is currently being trailed in Finland where 2000 unemployed citizens are receiving around £500 a month; reported well being has increased on the those trailed.
UBI would be given instead of benefit payments and has gained support from a variety of backers: from Silicone Valley scientists who see it as a way of countering increasing levels of automation to liberals who see it as a way of decreasing regulation and costly bureaucracy.
Arguments against the policy recognise that as it is not means tested, it may not benefit those who need help most. Giving each citizen a set payment could also a huge potential cost. Furthermore, Scotland does not currently have fully devolved powers over social security.
Sturgeon recognised the challenges associated with UBI, saying:
'Contemplating such a scheme inevitably raises a number of practical issues and questions, not least around the current powers of this Parliament - and undoubtedly there are arguments for and against. But, as we look ahead to the next decade and beyond, it is an idea that merits deeper consideration.'
Source: Scottish Government 'Programme for Government Speech' given 5th September 2017.
Read in full here: https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/2017-18-programme-for-government