CBI debate

First intergenerational debate on citizen's basic income took place in Glasgow

In June Generations Working Together attended a debate organised by Scottish Older People’s Assembly (SOPA) and Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) on citizen’s basic income (CBI). It is known by many different terms, including universal basic income and citizen’s income. The thinking behind it is the same: with the main idea being that an unconditional amount is given to citizens for basic needs, the income is non-means tested and does not depend on your working status or salary.

This idea has been discussed in the media and supported by Plaid Cymru, Green Party and activists within Liberal Democrats. It is also currently being considered by The Labour party and has supporters from the world of technology, including Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

Citizen’s Basic Income will be tried in European cities of Barcelona, Spain and Utrecht, Netherlands. The Finnish city of Helsinki has just finished their trial too which was started in January 2017.
Support for this idea, has often been discussed in regards to younger people within politics and the media. However, this event, held in City Chambers, Glasgow showed that we cannot discount older people when discussing basic income or assume things, as many passionate older speakers spoke about the proposal with enthusiasm, reflecting on their own life stories and challenges. One attendee for example talked about her struggles with the welfare system over the years, highlighting the need for a fresh approach to welfare.

This event was the first of it’s kind, celebrating the Year of Young People. The event was opened by Allan Gow, Councillor and Glasgow City Treasurer alongside a representative from both SOPA and SYP. Keiran O’Neill, MSYP for Maryhill and Springburn, and Tom Berney, Chair of Scottish Older People’s Assembly, highlighted the importance of involving the SYP and the SOPA and that he looked forward to future intergenerational work. Tom Bernie also commented on how bringing both generations together can help in discussing/debating this type of topic. What followed was a very interesting discussion on what basic income is, why it matters and what Scotland’s role in it may be.

Throughout the event, the audience asked questions and learned more about the feasibility study on basic income. This study is currently taking place in Scotland’s local councils of Fife, Edinburgh, Glasgow and North Ayrshire after the Scottish Government awarded £250,000 for this study earlier in 2018 and Glasgow City Council representatives discussed at the event their ideas, challenges and how the scheme may work in practice. For more details on the developments in Scotland please follow this update.

The main speaker of the evening was Annie Miller of Citizen’s Income Trust, as a retired economist, she discussed the changes that our society could see as a result of the basic income, including lower crime rate and increased time for volunteering. She also discussed the challenges of implementation, such as different policy makers having different ideas of what the rate would be or what citizen’s basic income should be for. The event ended with many questions from the audience including; why this idea has become so popular, how will it work in practice and how it will affect both younger and older generations. Some audience members raised their reservations, while others agreed with the project and its principles.

It was fascinating to see younger and older discussing the ideas and challenging each other’s points in a respectful and productive way. Most of the participants agreed that the project could affect younger and older people differently. Among other interesting discussions were: a discussion on students, on the welfare and the care systems. Glasgow Youth Council agreed that more intergenerational discussions on similar topics should take place in the future which proves the success of this meeting.
Generations Working Together believes that if an idea or a policy affects both younger and older generations, it is important to consult both. By coming and working together, younger and older people can challenge stereotypes, bring communities closer and build on their strength.

For more details, please contact Glenda Watt (SOPA Coordinator) at SOPA.

28th June 2018