Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Basic Income is coming to Scotland – Margaret Gilmour

The current exhibition at The NewBridge Project:Gateshead is 'Between Eating and Sleeping', by Toby Phips Lloyd. As part of his interactive exhibition, which explores public attitudes towards work (paid and unpaid labour), how free-time is valued, and potential futures of work, including policies like Universal Basic Income, Lloyd has programmed a number of related events. The first of these events was a screening of 'Basic Income is coming to Scotland' by Margaret Gilmour which I attended last night.

'Phillippe Van Parijs, describes Basic Income as “… an income paid unconditionally to individuals regardless of their family or household relationships, regardless of other incomes, and regardless of their past, present, or future employment status.” [1]

This concept has been presented as a possible solution to many of the problems that society faces today, and has gained support from both sides of the political spectrum.

The Scottish government announced in 2017 that it will commit to funding the first Basic Income trials in the UK. Four thousand people will be selected across four council areas to take part in the trials. These will be Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire. The trials are expected to begin within the next 18 months.

Margaret Gilmour, Broadcast Journalist and Mum to two girls, travelled to Finland to find out how the recipients of basic income's lives have changed since receiving the payment, and to see if they had any advice for Scotland's pilot. Her resulting documentary outlines the arguments for Basic Income and interviews participants taking part in the current trials in Finland.

The screening was followed by a discussion about the potential benefits or pitfalls if Basic Income was implemented in the North East of England, and which other policies such as social housing reforms would need to the put in place for it to be successful.

- Would this be a way to achieve ecological justice?
- Is giving money to the already wealthy morally right?
- Would it improve working conditions?
- Would it encourage a move to a more balanced lifestyle?
- Would it foster a more community-led society?
- Is it a way of valuing unpaid labour such as childcare?
- Would it encourage a change in attitudes towards voluntary work?

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