WITH some projections of the Covid-19 health crisis extending in the United Kingdom well into 2021, it’s looking like Scotland is going to need a universal citizens’ income or similar to ensure that at least the people of Scotland can be fed, warmed and clothed during this period, whilst optimising their battle with the Covid-19 virus.

As this would mean essentially undoing a decade of principled Tory austerity, it is unlikely that this would happen without unilateral action being taken by the Scottish Government, and would likely be at odds with UK pro-austerity governance.

The issue becomes the UK reserving borrowing powers to the immediate and prolonged detriment of the people of Scotland, by not using them, using them insufficiently, and/or denying their use by the Scottish Government.

Bearing in mind the likely temporary/permanent ceasing of large parts of manufacturing, retail and other service industries, resultant of the virus and the lack of any coherent UK Government response, the tax takes will have to be at least replaced, by borrowing and/or the printing of money.

The estimates of just how bad the economy and resultant personal incomes will likely be will have to in large part determine the level of universal income. What Scottish tax levels there are will have to reflect both this income and borrowing.

Clearly there is a need for the Scottish Government to liaise with the EU nations to enable as coherent an EU-wide response as practicable.

The UK Government is clearly unable to deal with Covid-19 as its attention remains focused on casting off the existing EU free trade agreement via Brexit. The Scottish Government and its Parliament need to act somewhat expeditiously.

Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow