A Case for Universal Basic Income

The policy aims to refocus the government's approach to drug abuse from one of criminalisation to one palliative care. The first semester was spent updating the policy recommendations and reviewing the policy for general coherence. The objectives going forward are heavily geared towards lobbying. This includes starting grassroots engagement and moving towards a policy change within the Edinburgh city council.





Jonny Ross-Tatam

Contributing Authors:

Emilia Peedu

Jordan Lee

Priyanka Radhakrishnan

Connor Houslow

Peter MacPhail

Executive Summary

A team of researchers at the Buchanan Institute have been investigating the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) – a universal, unconditional welfare payment to every individual, regardless of circumstances - for over two years. It has been the subject of a variety of public events and discussions organised by the Institute and it was the subject of a TEDx talk at the University of Edinburgh, by a former Buchanan President and author of this report, Jonny Ross-Tatam, in February 2015.

Through this paper, the author will make the case for a Universal Basic Income as a secure foundation on which every individual can build their lives. They will examine the widespread potential benefits a UBI could achieve: from encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, to making work pay and supporting people in caring for friends and relatives. With the rise of self-employment, flexible working, rapid technological change and an ageing population, our country needs a welfare system which is responsive to the ways many of us live and work in the 21stcentury. Indeed, the modern economy is almost unrecognisable to the post-war economy inhabited by our grandparents, which was when the much of the current welfare system was established.

With the global economy changing rapidly, there is a growing debate across the world - among politicians, policy makers, academics and entrepreneurs – about the need for our social security systems to meet the challenges of our age. The idea of a UBI, a basic weekly cash payment to every individual regardless of circumstances, has clearly become a key part of this debate: with UBI experiments being proposed in countries as diverse as Canada, the Netherlands, Finland and Kenya. There is also a possibility, at the time of writing, that Scotland will join this list, with Fife Council being touted as a potential location for a UBI experiment.

I am delighted that the Buchanan Institute will be contributing to this debate, by making both a principled and pragmatic case for implementing a Universal Basic Income in the UK.

As a non-partisan think tank, we are motivated by the evidence and what works. That is why we encourage the readers of this report, particularly the UK Government, to conduct further experiments and investigations into the possibility of a Universal Basic Income. Creating a welfare state fit for the 21stcentury, will require both radical thinking and sober analysis.

John Honey

President of the Buchanan Institute (2016-17)

November, 2016.