Scotland Is About to Decide on a "Radical" Basic Income Trial

The policy could help with the robot automation future.

Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

Scotland could become one of the first places in the world to try a universal basic income. On Friday, Fife councilors will discuss whether to move ahead with work on a limited trial in the council area. The policy has received global attention as a way of handling the growth of robot automation, which could lead to reduced working hours for humans. If approved, Scotland would join the Netherlands, where a trial is currently taking place, and Finland, where one is set to start next year, as one of the first nations to experiment with the radical policy.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Scotland to look at something quite radical and put the country at the forefront of work in a policy which is getting growing levels of support across Europe,” Jamie Cooke, head of the Royal Society of Arts Scotland that has been researching the idea, said in a report published Wednesday. “People working in the field in Finland and Holland are now looking at Scotland as a place where this can be developed.”

The Royal College of Arts, which has been researching the idea, has suggested £3,692 ($4,559.60) per year for adults, £7,420 ($9,163.66) for people over 65, and between £2,925 ($3,612.36) and £4,290 ($5,298.13) for children dependent on age and number of siblings (paid to their parents).

The idea has received greater attention, as robots threaten to take away jobs from human workers. Proponents argue that automation will take jobs away from all sectors, and the notion that people are working less because they are lazy will fade away. A basic income will provide a minimum level of support while allowing employees to alter their working hours.

Experts in the field have argued that a basic income is needed sooner rather than later. Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, argued in September that supporters will need to fight for the policy, as it cannot be assumed that politicians and bosses will take sympathy on those that have lost out in automation.

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