Work starts on Minimum Income Guarantee

The Scottish Government said on Tuesday it is taking the “first steps on the road” to establishing a Scottish Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison co-chaired the first meeting of a new steering group “to drive forward the ambitious new policy with the aim of reducing poverty, inequality and insecurity.”

The Scottish Government said Robison also launched a consultation to gather views on how establishing a Minimum Income Guarantee — which would provide an assurance “that everyone would have enough money to live a dignified, healthy and financially secure life” – could be designed and delivered in Scotland.

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.”

A Minimum Income Guarantee would not be solely a social security payment or a top up of existing benefits.

It could be met through a combination of employment, tax relief and social security benefits and also via services such as childcare and transport.

The steering group is co-chaired by Russell Gunson, Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research in Scotland, which published a report earlier this year on how a future Minimum Income Guarantee could look.

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.”

The group involved in the plans will comprise two-subgroups — a strategy group of MSPs chaired by Robinson and an expert group chaired by Gunson that includes those who with have lived with poverty.

Members of each of the political parties in the Scottish Parliament will be part of the strategy group, including Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy and Conservative MSP Miles Briggs.

The expert group will include Chris Birt of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Fiona Collie of Carers Scotland and Mubin Haq of the Standard Life Foundation.