A FOURTH Scottish local authority has announced plans to develop a universal basic income pilot as part of its strategy to tackle poverty.

Members of North Ayrshire Council agreed yesterday to move forward with proposals, joining Glasgow City Council and Fife Council in already developing plans. It is understood Edinburgh City Council is also considering developing a pilot scheme.

The Irvine-based authority, which is run by a minority Labour administration, has agreed to spend £200,000 to move forward with project.

A spokeswoman for North Ayrshire Council said: “As part of our 2017/18 budget, we committed to investing £1.8 million in an ambitious approach to tackling poverty in North Ayrshire and create more equity in our communities.

“As part of this investment, £200,000 has been dedicated to developing a Basic Income Pilot. The pilot would look at the feasibility of replacing complex benefits with a basic income which people could top up with earned income through jobs or self-employment.

“Our work would link with pilots being developed in other areas of Scotland and be used to inform the delivery of a wider Scottish Basic Income Pilot.

“While discussions are at an early stage, today our cabinet agreed to proceed with the design stage of a Basic Income Pilot.”

She added that designing the scheme was expected to take around 12 to 18 months.

The move coincided with a conference organised by the Royal Society of Arts and the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector on the universal basic income held in Glasgow with speakers including Patrick Harvie. The Scottish Greens’ co-convener said there was growing support for the idea “whose time has come”.

“A citizen’s or basic income has long been Scottish Green Party policy and it is encouraging to see representatives from other parties now considering it,” he said.

“Interest is growing, with a Citizen’s Basic Income Network in Scotland and pilot projects proposed in Glasgow, Fife and – thanks to Green councillors just last week – in Edinburgh.”

He added: “The need for such bold policies is urgent. What was called social security has been twisted over the years by successive UK Governments into a system that bullies people and traps them in poverty, even when they are working. A basic income would give people stability to look for work and balance that with any caring responsibilities.”

Under the citizen’s income, welfare benefits such as child and tax credits and state pensions are replaced with an unconditional flat-rate payment regardless of whether the recipient is in work or not.

Any money a person earns above the payment is taxed with either a single flat rate or a number of progressive taxation rates. A pilot is currently running in Holland, while Finland is to launch one next year.

Supporters of the universal basic income say it has the potential to create a fairer and less complex welfare system as well as build a more family-friendly society, giving a safety net to people out of work, allowing people to have an income while caring for relatives or while retraining for a new career.

They believe it would save on administration costs and prevent benefit fraud. Figures proposed by the Royal Society of Arts suggest, on the basis of 2012-13 prices, most adults would receive £3692 a year, while the over 65s would get £7420. Parents would get between £2925 and £4290 depending on the child’s age.