Following a pre-election manifesto commitment, the Finnish Government has just announced that it will be testing out a universal basic income scheme amongst a select group of 2,000 citizens. Each individual will receive an unconditional sum of €600 irrespective of the person’s working income. The Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila is confident that the experiment will show a boost for employment and also reduce the bureaucracy of the benefits system. Such is the enthusiasm for the universal basic income in Finland, the 5.5 million population country is set to become the first European Union nation to make the scheme national with plans to roll out the payments to all citizens in the coming years.
Canada also has a similar scheme in the pipeline and the province of Ontario has made it clear that a trial must go ahead in order to formulate a feasible system that can address the inequalities that are increasingly aggravating social issues to the detriment of the economy. The Ministry of Finance said in a recent statement:
As Ontario’s economy grows, the government remains committed to leaving no one behind. Maintaining an effective social safety net is one part of the government’s broader efforts to reduce poverty and ensure inclusion in communities and the economy. The pilot project will test a growing view at home and abroad that basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support in the context of today’s dynamic labor market.
The Chairwoman of the Basic Income Canada Network Sheila Regehr stated:
We need it rolled out across Canada, and Quebec, too, is in the game. So there’s no reason why people and governments in other parts of this country need sit on the sidelines – it’s time for us all to get to work.
Reform Scotland have produced a report for the Scottish Government following the Spring Conference announcement by the SNP that a basic income should be considered and although the recommendations are still dependent upon enhanced welfare powers for Holyrood it has strongly urged that pilot schemes be looked at as a means test for a future solution. Their policy document concludes:
Regardless of where the bulk of responsibility for welfare policy rests at
Westminster or Holyrood – Reform Scotland is advancing the Basic Income
Guarantee to replace the current work-related benefits system. This BIG idea
must be at the centre of debate about our future benefits system.
IndependenceLive.net were recently invited to cover an event at Fika Cafe in Glasgow where a range of speakers and performers from a range of backgrounds came together to educate and discuss. We plan to follow this series which is set to be held monthly and would invite all our followers to take an active part in the coming conversation.