Citizens’ basic income in Scotland: on the road to somewhere

Sara Cantillon, Francis O'Toole

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While the economic fragility exposed by Covid-19 has renewed the attention paid to social protection systems and in particular to basic income, the Scottish government had already funded four local authorities – North Ayrshire, City of Edinburgh, Fife and Glasgow – to undertake a feasibility study on the introduction of a Universal Basic Income pilot in Scotland. This article explores the specific Scottish context and rationale for this study, including the factors that led the Scottish government and the local authorities to pursue this approach, as well as the impact of the study on the wider social security debate and policy context in Scotland. Specifically, it takes a critical look at the Steering Committee's feasibility study, and its two commissioned research components, and explores the financial costings and institutional obstacles identified in taking forward a pilot Universal Basic Income in Scotland. These significant challenges are considered in light of both the limits of devolution and the ongoing debate on independence, as well as the wider implications for progress in social protection in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Security
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jul 2022


  • basic income
  • Scotland
  • devolution
  • social security
  • feasibility


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