TO celebrate the Year of Young People, every week in 2018 The National is giving a platform to young Scots. This week, 22-year-old Aberdeenshire councillor Leigh Wilson.

MY favourite contemporary economist is the former Newsnight editor Paul Mason. In his recent publication PostCapitalism, Mason provides a compelling critique of the current capitalist system, as well as sensing the direction of travel of the modern global economy. His hypothesis is that the current metric of economic success – growth, spending, consumerism and accumulation of debt – is nearing the end of its life cycle and something altogether more equitable is soon to replace it.

The idea of automation and information technology replacing thousands, even millions of jobs is both a daunting one and an exciting one. It injects a certain urgency into our projections of how to remodel our economic prospectus, while highlighting the need to do so in a more innovative, radical fashion.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an idea that has immensely excited me since I first started researching it three or four years ago. I am therefore delighted that four urban local authorities have been granted funding to investigate the feasibility of UBI, although representing a rural area I would have liked to have seen Aberdeenshire included in this scheme to provide more demographic variety. The concept of setting a minimum income, tackling the deprivation currently caused by decades of generational poverty and low wages, has finally come of age.

My ward in Aberdeenshire is the first to trial Universal Credit and although not enough time has passed to draw any meaningful conclusions, the initial signs point towards more people ending up in rent arrears. Implementing UBI may not eradicate poverty overnight, but it does have the ability to both set a minimum standard of living and reframe the conversation we have over benefits. For Scotland to achieve its full potential we have to move away from the focus on punishing vulnerable people and maximising their humiliation; we instead have to embrace the idea that everyone has something to offer society, no matter their intellect or physical ability. If the debate over UBI helps us reemphasise that everyone has a valuable part to play in Scotland’s journey, then that alone is worth it.

However, I am not only interested in this idea for purely economic reasons. I believe it has the potential to reskill and regenerate the areas most blighted by deprivation. Having the comfort to learn new skills without simultaneously working full-time to stay afloat is something we should all encourage. While the 20th century has been the century of work – from the physical exertion of manufacturing labour, to the precariat on zero-hour contracts – this century may be the time for a more modular form of human existence based on the principles of social relations rather than capital connections.

Transformational, innovative and progressive, UBI is the kind of policy area I want contemporary Scotland to explore. Full credit to the Scottish Government for cautiously embracing the idea. Now let’s campaign for the full powers over economic and social policy to fully realise this change.