After Finland, Scotland is going to test universal income. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Prime Minister, announced that her government would finance various studies in order to assess the viability of such a plan. Even if the head of government had not given any details, the Anglo-Saxon press suggested several concrete options. Aiming at anticipating the effects of automation on employment, this experimentation would also enable Scotland to distance itself from the United Kingdom’s social protection system.
After Finland, the municipality of Barcelona, and Alaska, Scotland could become a new territory of experimentation of universal income. As a constituent nation of the United Kingdom, Scotland is willing to establish its own social protection system in the medium term. The Scottish government has declared its intention to fund several studies on the viability and solvency of such a system.
The forthcoming publication of these studies does not prevent the British press from speculating on different scenarios. The Independent, for instance, assumes that the Scottish Government would pay a universal income of £ 150 (€ 165) per week per person for pensioners, £ 100 for workers and £ 50 for minors under 16. The financing of such a measure, estimated at more than 425 billion pounds if applicable throughout the Kingdom, appears on the contrary most uncertain. In the Scottish case, would there be a taxation of robots and machines? Besides its funding, uncertainty remains about the details of universal income enforcement as well as the populations that could benefit from it.
As for Scotland, the Anglo-Saxon press believes that the government would like to study the feasibility of universal income in order to merge the payment of the various social subsidies. For its supporters, this merger would lead to savings in terms of management. This scenario would differ considerably from the experiment currently underway in Finland. Set up since 1 January, the experiment of the Finnish universal income does not include the merger of existing aids. They are still paid to the beneficiaries in addition to the universal allowance.
The idea of universal income thus continues to gain ground in Europe. Before a probable Scottish experiment, Finland will present the result of its test in early 2018. The success of such an experiment could boost the supporters of this system.
In the issue 74 of our magazine Folio, Ipse presented the history and topicality of universal income. This concept is promoted by various political currents and citizens, and is tested in various areas of Europe. Ipse is continuing its work of monitoring and informing its members on this subject and on the new opportunities for social protection.