I WELCOME the response of the Progressive Policy Research Group (PPRG) to the Social Justice and Fairness Commission’s report on a Universal Basic Income (Universal Basic Income ‘risks penalising poor’, September 11).

I managed to locate the PPRG’s policy paper on the internet and have to take issue with it and suggest the group extends its research before being dismissive of a UBI.

While I embrace the essential tests of affordability, deliverability and everyone being treated with dignity, fairness and respect, I’m less enamoured with the test of reducing inequality. I certainly subscribe to equality in many things, but if the PPRG means by that financial inequality, and that test gets in the way of ending poverty quickly, then the PPRG and the Commission need to decide what their priority is – because the end of poverty and inequality are not the same.

READ MORE: Universal Basic Income risks 'penalising poor', report warns

The major failing of the PPRG’s policy paper is that it gets hung up on the current tax systems and how a UBI would interfere with them, including a significant raising of income tax rates. It concludes that many middle- and lower-income earners would be worse off. It cements that position by advocating a minimum income or negative income tax through a reformed welfare system.

One would have thought the PPRG would have given some thought and voice to a fundamentally different tax system, as it is the relationship between tax gathered and public support for a nation’s citizens which is fundamental to the ability to make life better.

Nowhere does the response mention land as the source of our public services, despite this principle being the policy adopted by acclaim at the SNP conference in 2017.

If the PPRG had included a consideration of an alternative tax system such as Annual Ground Rent, which replaces inter alia income tax, then they may have concluded that a UBI of, say, £200 per week for every man, woman and child in Scotland would be both affordable and not prejudice middle and lower earners. Our government could devise a humane and proportionate amount for those who come to our country and are resident here. It may be the full amount; it may not.

The other glaring omission which is shared by most of the proponents of UBI and alternative welfare payments, such as minimum income or negative income tax, is the failure to consider how an aspiration for a true property-owning democracy where everyone has a financial stake is made real. The problem with welfare is that it’s perceived as helping people “to get by” , but less to “get past”.

A system of public funding which includes within its UBI an amount (say, at least 10%) which must be invested in the Scottish economy ensures that everyone has a share in our property-owning democracy even if only one year’s investment can’t be withdrawn. Within a generation, even if parents need to spend much of their children’s UBI,

most will still have a reasonable amount of money invested, which allows all to get past a lack of personal capital.

Eradicating poverty requires both getting by and getting past. Annual Ground Rent makes these affordable and achievable and entrepreneurial ... and it can even be achieved in part under the present devolution settlement.

Graeme McCormick
Arden, by Loch Lomond

WHAT to do with nuclear submarines at Faslane after indyref2 has long been discussed in The National. This may help. After the referendum our MP mentioned a Westminster source as stating that following a Yes vote the nuclear subs would have been moved to New Jersey straight away. Problem solved for us.

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