A UNIVERSAL basic income (UBI) is being considered as a key plank of the SNP’s new white paper for an independent Scotland which is being inspired by the groundbreaking Beveridge Report, it can be revealed.

The policy is being examined by the party’s Social Justice and Fairness Commission, set up by the First Minister last year to build the case for independence by looking at ways to tackle poverty.

It guarantees every citizen a payment from the Government and support has gathered for the intervention during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Writing in The National today Shona Robison and Neil Gray, the convener and vice-convener of the commission, said they had been looking at UBI in the context of “grappling with a number of fundamental questions” brought into focus by the current pandemic.

They added they were examining how UBI could be delivered, at what level, how it would relate with a wider welfare policy and how its delivery would sit with public service delivery.

“We have been considering a universal basic income as a means to provide that safety net, as well as a mechanism that values unpaid work such as caring or volunteering in the community,” they said.

“The bigger questions to resolve going forward are how this could be delivered, and at what level. But just as importantly, how a universal basic income (UBI) would sit within a wider system of state support.

“What use is UBI if the cost of living, including essential services, is so high that it negates any benefit? UBI is a starting point, which must be considered alongside how we provide universal services such as childcare, education, healthcare, housing, social care and public transport.”

They compared the scale of ambition in the commission’s work with the Beveridge Report, published in 1942, which set out the “cradle to the grave” blueprint for social policy in post-war Britain and which helped establish the NHS and the welfare state.

Robison and Gray continued: “The Beveridge Report was considered revolutionary. It laid the foundation for the creation of the Welfare State and the NHS, and a re-imagining of the social contract between the citizen and the state. We need that kind of ambition now and a reset of the relationship between governments and the people they are there to serve.”

They add: “Our remit as a commission is to produce a route map to the real prize of independence – a new social contract between our government and our citizens.

“Our focus must be on building something better than our old normal.”

The First Minister had announced her intention to hold a second referendum this year but the plan was withdrawn following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.