By Lucy Ashton
Scotland is taking its first steps on the road to establishing a Scottish Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison will today co-chair the first meeting of a new steering group to drive forward the ambitious new policy with the aim of reducing poverty, inequality and insecurity.
Ms Robison has 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.
The announcement meets another commitment for the first 100 days of this government.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms 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 be 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.
Mr 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.”
Access the consultation dialogue
The group will comprise of two-subgroups, a strategy group of MSPs, chaired by Ms Robison, and an expert group, including those with lived experience of poverty, chaired by Mr Gunson.
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 also include, among others, Chris Birt of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Fiona Collie of Carers Scotland and Mubin Haq of the Standard Life Foundation.
A Minimum Income Guarantee is not solely a social security payment or a top up of existing benefits. It can be met through a combination of employment, tax relief and social security benefits and also services in kind, such as childcare and transport.
Crucially, it is not a mechanism to keep wages down. All of society has a part to play in tackling poverty, including employers. We must encourage secure, well paid employment.
Earlier this year the Social Renewal Advisory Board called for action on a Minimum Income Guarantee in its report to Ministers, If Not Now, When?
The IPPR Scotland report from March 2021 Securing A Living Income In Scotland – Towards An MIG