A STUDY into whether every citizen in Scotland should receive a basic income has recommended running a pilot scheme – but it would need support from the UK Government.

Glasgow City Council is one of four local authorities, alongside Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire, which has worked with NHS Health Scotland and the Improvement Service over the past two years to explore the possibility of a citizens’ basic income (CBI).

The steering group believes a three-year pilot would help to understand the impact a CBI could have on poverty, unemployment and financial well-being.

SNP, Labour and Green Party councillors on Glasgow City Council are in favour of exploring the idea.

But the Tory group says it would “radically increase the tax burden faced by every working household in Britain”.

City Treasurer Ricky Bell said: “We are keen to test its ability to address inequality and mitigate against poverty and deprivation.

“It is imperative that we consider new policy options, better designed than the current system and more equipped to improve living standards and quality of life.

“The Covid-19 pandemic puts even more focus on the need for change and fuels the desire to find different and more effective responses to the many challenges we now face.”

The recommended method would see two study areas where the whole community receives an income, one receiving a high payment, based on the Minimum Income

Standard set by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and the other a low payment “more closely aligned with current benefit levels”.

The draft final report will be debated by the four councils before being passed to the Scottish Government at the end of the month.

Glasgow Labour leader Frank McAveety said: “Given the extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances we now find ourselves in, ideas such as a universal basic income have found new purchase and renewed vigour. 

“It is clear that our social security system in the UK is not sufficient to provide the dignity and security that we want to see for all citizens. 

Glasgow Times: Frank McAveety Frank McAveety

“Universal basic income is an idea that, if it works, has the potential to deliver and it is an idea we should explore fully.”

And Glasgow Greens councillor Allan Young said: “Glasgow has some of the worst outcomes in the UK, and despite best efforts it has been clear that successive governments have failed to shift that. 

“That’s why it is the perfect place to lead the world in pioneering new ways of supporting citizens.”

Glasgow Times: Allan Young Allan Young

However, the proposed pilot model “would require full collaboration” of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Neither the Scottish Government or the local authorities could introduce a CBI on their own.

Glasgow Tories leader Thomas Kerr said: “We do not believe it is an appropriate use of taxpayer’s money to send payments direct to billionaires while their cleaners are penalised through the removal of the personal tax allowance. 

Glasgow Times: Thomas Kerr Thomas Kerr

“During this crisis we have seen the flexibility of the welfare system in supporting households throughout the United Kingdom as well as innovations like the furlough scheme which has directly underpinned wages and helped secure millions of jobs.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently said her position on basic income had “gone from having a keen interest in exploring it to what I now describe as active support for it”.

Costs for a pilot based on the proposed model are approximately £186m. The Scottish Government provided £250,000 to support the feasibility work.