(Please note: the consultation is currently expected to close on the 16th of October, 2020.)

The Commission’s working group on providing a Secure Income for All is focusing on how to deliver a secure income for everyone and eradicate poverty in Scotland, and considering areas such Social Security, employment, caring responsibilities, equal pay and maternity and paternity rights.

We are interested in your views on all of these issues, and some broad questions, which are listed below.

  • What should be the long term goal under this heading?
  • What are the key drivers of change to achieve this goal?
  • What are the key barriers to achieving this goal?
  • What are we currently doing in Scotland that works, and actively brings us closer to this goal?
  • What would be your advice to the first government of an independent Scotland?
  • What measures would the Scottish Government need to prioritise in a second term, and a third?

We have also published a discussion paper ‘A Secure Income for All’. This paper focuses on state provision of a secure income for all, with particular attention to the principle of providing a universal basic income. Feedback can be emailed to: consultation@socialjustice.scot or you can respond to the questions via the forms below.

"A Secure Income for All" Discussion Paper

1. What minimum income should be guaranteed?

Currently the poverty line is set at 60% of median income, adjusted for household composition. Some commentators argue that this is arbitrary. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has proposed a “minimum income standard” based on the cost of what the public generally regards as necessities. Do you support such “consensual” approaches to determining minimum incomes?

Roughly what levels of weekly income would you regard as being adequate for each adult and child (not taking into account housing costs or additional needs, for example arising from disability)?

2. Conditionality

In what circumstances, if any, should the receipt of state support be conditional on individuals meeting certain conditions, such as actively seeking work, participating in (re) training programmes, or community work?

If state support is conditional, what sanctions is it reasonable for the state to take when claimants fail to meet these requirements?, for example total or partial withdrawal of benefits for a period; replacement of cash support with vouchers for a period, etc.

3. Unpaid work

How can the system of state support better recognise the role of unpaid work, for example childcare, caring for relatives, and voluntary work?

4. Universal Basic Income

This paper has presented various options for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), i.e. a sum of money paid to each adult and child regardless of their income or circumstances, and which is neither means-tested or conditional.

Do you support the principle of a universal basic income?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a “partial” basic income scheme. (A partial scheme is where the level of basic income is not high enough to provide an adequate level of income, and is supplemented by the retention of means-tested benefits.)

Do you think that a full UBI is feasible? (A full UBI is one that provides an adequate level of income without the retention of other benefits.) How quickly do you think it could be introduced?

How could a UBI deal with differing needs, for example those arising from disability or variable housing costs?

5. Other approaches

UBI is not the only way in which poverty could be tackled.

Please give your views on the following approaches:

Raising existing benefit levels to the Minimum Income Standard in order to reduce/ eradicate poverty. (The system could be reformed in other ways, e.g. removing waiting times, ending the benefits cap, reforming conditionality and sanctions.)

Reviving the national insurance system. The principle behind the Beveridge plan was to remove stigma by making benefits non-means-tested in return for national insurance contributions. However, they were always paid at relatively low levels, in contrast to many European schemes that pay 60-80% of previous employment income.

6. Short-term measures

Radical reform of the system of income support will take time. What immediate steps should be taken to reduce poverty?