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Scotland takes step towards minimum income guarantee

The public is being asked for views on a new plan to help eradicate poverty, as Scotland begins the process of establishing a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).

The policy would aim to provide assurance that everyone would have enough money to live a dignified, healthy and financially secure life in Scotland.

A Minimum Income Guarantee is not solely a social security payment of a top up of existing benefits, but can be met through a combination of employment, tax relief, social security benefits and services such as childcare and transport.

The first meeting of a new steering group to drive forward the policy will be held today, co-chaired by social justice secretary Shona Robison and director of the Institute for Public Policy Research in Scotland, Russell Gunson, with the aim of reducing poverty, inequality and insecurity.

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Speaking ahead of the meeting, Shona Robison said: ‘We are committed to progressing the delivery of a Minimum Income Guarantee, which could be revolutionary in our fight against poverty. It is a clear demonstration of our ambition and aspiration for Scotland. The policy is innovative, bold and radical. It reflects our clear desire to do everything with our limited powers to deliver the change needed, using every lever at our disposal.

‘Eradicating child poverty and building a fairer, more equal country must be a national mission, not just for the government, but our parliament and broader society. We recognise this is a cross-government responsibility and we are focused on working together to push forward poverty reduction in Scotland. We must look at ways of maximising household incomes from work and social security, as well as reducing costs on essentials including services such as childcare.

‘Introducing a Minimum Income Guarantee will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight, but there is a willingness to deliver on our ambition.’

The steering group will comprise of two-subgroups, a strategy group of MSPs chaired by Shona Robison, and an expert group including those with lived experience of poverty chaired by Russell Gunson.

Russell Gunson said: ‘A Minimum Income Guarantee could transform the lives of people across Scotland, setting an income floor in Scotland beneath which no one would fall. To build a fairer and stronger Scotland following Covid-19 we will need to think big ideas in Scotland and think just as big on how to implement them.

‘The MIG Steering Group is a great step, bringing cross-party representatives and experts from across Scotland together to shape a Minimum Income Guarantee and make progress on delivering it. I’m delighted to be co-chair and look forward to working hard together to see tangible progress towards delivering a Minimum Income Guarantee for Scotland over the coming years.’

In related news, the Scottish Living Hours Accreditation Scheme encourages businesses to provide secure contracts, flexible hours, and payment of the real Living Wage.

Photo by Craig McKay

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