Scotland is set to host the world’s largest universal basic income (UBI) conference this month.
By: Craig Meighan
Basic Income Network Scotland, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, will see the 22nd Basic Income Earth Network Congress come to Glasgow from August 18-21.
The congress – with an expansive programme of academic presentations, workshops, artists and activists from all over the world – will welcome participants including United Nations representatives to focus on taking UBI from an idea to a reality.
UBI is currently defined as an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship, with advocates including Pope Francis.
A combination of factors has broadened its appeal in recent times: rising inequality, widespread economic insecurity, and the potential of labour-displacing technological change, including automation and artificial intelligence.
For several years Scotland has aimed to lead the UBI debate in the UK and at last year’s elections, the SNP’s manifesto proposed a move to a minimum income guarantee in the current parliament to form the foundations for a basic income if Scotland chooses independence.
Ronnie Cowan MP said: “This congress comes at a pivotal time when people’s livelihoods and work opportunities have been limited due to a global pandemic. A basic income could act as a safety net for those struggling to make ends meet and give them the opportunity to empower themselves and move forward.
“I was delighted to learn the Basic Income Earth Network Congress for 2021 is to be held, virtually, in Glasgow as this will be a tremendous opportunity to show to the rest of the world the actions Scotland has already taken in pursuing a basic income. I believe the time for introducing a basic income is now.”
A £250,000 Scottish Government-funded study led by four local authorities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire and Fife) provides the basis for Scotland’s headline plenary session.