I WAS interested to read Kathleen Nutt’s recent report, “Basic income for all would end destitution” (May 9) and the letters in response to this. Especially as the New Economics Foundation, a think-tank which promotes social, economic and environmental justice, has just published a study which casts doubt on the ambitious claims made for universal basic income (UBI).

The study, “Universal Basic Income: A Union Perspective”, was based on research conducted for Public Services International, a global trade union federation, and reviewed for the first time 16 practical projects across a range of poor, middle-income and rich countries, as well as copious literature on the subject. According to study co-author Anna Coote, they found “no evidence to suggest that such a scheme could be sustained in the short, medium or longer term” or that such an approach “could achieve any lasting improvements in wellbeing or equality”. In short, they concluded that “making cash payments to all is no solution to poverty and inequality”.

I’m not especially conversant with the subject, but the report by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce which was covered in Kathleen Nutt’s piece certainly threw up all kinds of questions for me. For example: “Paying an initial basic income of £2400 a year, which would eventually be raised to £4800, would eradicate destitution in Scotland, the RSA has claimed”.

The latter sum would apparently “completely eliminate destitution in Scotland”. That’s quite an assertion! And difficult to understand based on the stated figures. A sum of £2400 amounts to £46.15 per week, significantly less than an unemployed person currently receives. The higher amount would be £92.30, an improvement for an unemployed person but still a very low income. Either amount would see long-term sick and disabled people much worse off, unless there were going to be top-up payments of some kind. In addition, what about housing costs? How would they be paid? Currently, people on low incomes qualify for Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit. The UBI amounts proposed wouldn’t pay people’s housing costs, so how would people be expected to keep a roof over their heads if they were unemployed, long-term sick or disabled, a carer or low paid? It seems to me there would require to be a system of additional top-up payments for those who were out of work or in low-paid work – much like the benefits system!

Any UBI would have to accommodate a huge range of individual circumstances and changing circumstances and would necessarily be massively complex. Personally, I’m rather sceptical and can’t help thinking that there’s no adequate substitute for a robust, respectful and dignified social security system – something the Scottish Government are trying to establish with the limited powers available to them.

I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, but, my own concerns notwithstanding, the findings of the New Economics Foundation study need to be considered.

Mo Maclean

THE flip side of universal basic income (UBI) is where and how the money is spent. I suspect the Labour party’s proposals would gain more support from the public if they didn’t think their taxes would end up in some plutocrat’s bank account in the Cayman Islands.

The current proposals are not ambitious enough. They should be developed to revitalise local communities by paying UBI in a new local currency. A local bank could be established to receive and convert funds from the Treasury and distribute local pounds on a local debit card. Local people would vote to accept existing and new local businesses and cooperatives willing to participate in the scheme.

Some national firms may have to be included in the scheme and the local bank would have to reconvert local pounds for businesses when needed. But this would be the beginning of a reinvigoration of local economies to benefit mainly local people.

Geoff Naylor

WELL done, England! Four English teams in the finals of the Champions League and European Cup is a truly amazing achievement. Their remarkable success is due to outstanding players, coaches, managers and club owners from England, Europe and various countries across the world. This is what Better Together should be all about.

James Stevenson

READING your sports pages on Friday, I noted David Moyes being mentioned amongst candidates for the Scotland managerial vacancy.

David Moyes first came to my notice some years ago when, as manager of Everton, his main claim to fame appeared to be making the team “hard to beat” but, in my opinion, he made them even harder to watch. Since then Mr Moyes’ career has been chequered to say the least and I have no idea why he would be considered, other than the fact he is currently unemployed.

Another niggle for me regarding Moyes is that he was one of those Better Together types who in 2014 advised Scots to vote No. As Mr Moyes’s Unionist views were so strongly held that he felt obliged to go public, I am puzzled as to why he (and others) did not lobby for a football “Team GB”.

Malcolm Cordell
Broughty Ferry, Dundee