We’re delighted to see that the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a state provided minimum income without means-testinghas been promoted by the SNP and the Welsh government. This is something that Staf has been championing for Scottish care leavers, alongside our partners at Aberlour and RSA Scotland.  

The Welsh Government has announced that care leavers could be chosen for a UBI pilot and in their recent Social Justice and Fairness Commission: A route map to a fair and independent Scotland report the SNP have pledged they would pilot a UBI scheme, albeit only once Scotland has become independent. 

We know that just 25% of care leavers in Scotland are in work, education or training and adults with care-experience are one and a half times more likely to have financial difficulties. Care leavers are more likely to live in poverty and without the ‘bank of mum and dad’ will find it a struggle to make ends meet and allow them to navigate the transition from care without the additional stress of being in poverty and finding their way out of any stigmatising, benefit induced poverty traps. The current benefit system is not only stigmatising but deeply complex and bureaucratic. As one young person told us  

“It’s shocking that as a young person who has went through the state care system that’s meant to help, love and support you I’m not getting the support that I need, or I’m entitled to? There’s too many hoops, too many hoops.” 
The idea of a UBI has become an issue of global interest with pilot projects in Finland, Kenya and California. It’s heartening to see.  

According to the BBC a spokesman for the Welsh government said: "We have followed the progress of universal basic income pilot projects around the world with interest and believe there is an opportunity to test the concept in Wales. There is more work to be done in this area but we are interested in developing a small pilot, potentially involving people leaving care." 
The SNP stated in their manifesto that in the absence of independence they will start work on a Minimum Income Guarantee, and this would be likely to receive cross party support as similar pledges were made by the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. As the Scottish Parliament begins its new session, we will be watching with interest. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, especially for care leavers, so it seems more important than ever that big, brave decisions are made and we believe UBI or a Minimum Income Guarantee could be the ideal solution. We are here to help make that a reality.