THE SNP’s Social Justice and Fairness Commission’s long-awaited discussion paper on a universal basic income (UBI) is due to be published today.

The party says it doesn’t make specific recommendations but rather is set to inform a wider debate between members and supporters at the SNP’s online National Assembly next week.

It’s the first report from the body set up by the First Minister to show how the proceeds of economic growth under independence could be shared “much more fairly”.

The group was seen as an attempt to rebut some of the criticism of Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission report.

Both political opponents – and a fair number of party members – had attacked his calls for tighter spending controls to bring down the deficit after independence.

The former health secretary, Shona Robison, who chairs the commission, said she hoped the paper, entitled A Secure Future For All, would “stimulate some really positive debate about how we could use the powers of independence to build a more socially just and fairer Scotland”.

Her Westminster colleague Neil Gray said the commission was keen to “seek views on an approach that would not just transform social security provision, but have a profound impact on our society.” He added: “We have put particular focus on Universal Basic Income as that is one of the most radical and challenging options being debated. When considering transformational change, it’s important that it is grounded in a wide-ranging discussion and consensus and that’s why we want to undertake early consultation on this issue.”

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The coronavirus pandemic has re-ignited the debate on a UBI which would see all UK citizens – regardless of their income – handed a cash payment either yearly or monthly.

The Scottish Government has previously funded schemes to examine pilots in four local authorities – Fife, Edinburgh, Glasgow and North Ayrshire – but have limited powers to introduce the policy in Scotland currently as some key income tax and welfare powers are reserved.

Think tank Reform Scotland supports the policy and published a briefing earlier suggesting a basic income level of £5200 a year for every adult.

The pressure on the UK Government to introduce a form of UBI has increased, with more than 170 MPs and peers writing to Rishi Sunak in March to urge him to consider such a move.

The UK Government has pushed back against the idea of a UBI, with the Chancellor saying in March that it was not the “right response” to the pandemic. saying existing welfare systems are sufficient.

Last month, Jamie Cooke, director of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing (RSA) in Scotland, a supporter of the UBI, said the crisis had exposed “the fault lines and failings of our economic and social systems”.

He added: “As research and experiments have shown, basic income can help us to create a society where our residents do not just survive, but thrive – one in which destitution can be countered, economic security can be increased, physical and mental wellbeing improved and all activity, whether creativity, paid employment or caring, can be valued.”

Writing in today’s The National, the SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown welcomed the report and said that while it was a party paper, it was intended to spark a wider discussion.

He said: “There will be a great deal of interest in this topic within the SNP but the Commission’s consultation is open to the wider public to engage with too. The work of the Commission has an important role to play in making the case for independence, by setting out how much more we could achieve with the full powers of an independent country.

“Plus, the very act of asking people to imagine what we could do with those powers perfectly illustrates why we need them.”