NICOLA Sturgeon will open the largest conference in the world on basic income, which is being hosted in Scotland this week.

The First Minister, who has said the experience of the pandemic has strengthened her support for such a system, will appear in a video message at the event, organisers said.

Up to 1500 are expected to attend the congress, which is taking place ­online from Wednesday to ­Saturday and has been organised from ­Glasgow.

Experts from around the world are taking part, including from Japan, New Zealand, Chile and the US, as well as the chief economist of the UN Development Programme.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Universal basic income would be ‘great opportunity’ for Yes

The focus of the 22nd Basic ­Income Earth Network Congress is on ­considering how to move the “big idea” of government guaranteeing a regular minimum income to every citizen to becoming a reality.

Professor Mike Danson, chair of Basic Income Network Scotland, said the idea was now being advocated for around the world.

He said: “South Korea is one of the major leaders – so one of the final plenaries we have is about the experience there.

“In Brazil, one of the leading ­politicians in Sao Paulo state has ­actually retired just to devote his whole life to getting basic income on to the statute book in Sao Paulo.

“Mayors of cities around the world are attending and often they have been leading [on basic income] – that is the case, particularly in England, for instance, but also in US states.”

He said the idea of basic income had been brought to the fore because of the Covid pandemic.

“The way [the pandemic] was ­addressed in Britain – there were lots of schemes which were letting some people fall through the gaps, some of the newly self-employed for instance, or people changing jobs who couldn’t get furlough,” he said.

“A lot of them have been forced into poverty and debt – a basic income would have been a much more effective and efficient way to make sure that wasn’t the outcome for many over the last 18 months.”

One of the key aims of the ­conference will be to draw up a ­definition of basic income, which can be used as a basis for pilot schemes and trials around the world.

Danson said: “It is trying to make sure when we do have pilots and experiments, that we are actually looking at the same thing and assessing it.

“A big point of pilots is to see how things work, what is the impact on participation in the labour market, can we actually get money to everybody if households are dominated by a male for instance? Is it universal, does it cover ­everyone including asylum seekers and refugees?

“So there are a lot of aspects to it which are important of themselves, but also we need to be making sure we are considering the same thing.

“Having a common definition which is accepted is very helpful.”

The first day of the conference will look at the results of the ­Scottish Government funded study which ­examined whether basic income ­pilots were feasible in Scotland.

The SNP’s manifesto for the ­election this year pledged to work ­towards providing a minimum ­income guarantee so that “everyone in Scotland has enough money to live a dignified life”.

READ MORE: Voters want answers to the key questions about independence

Danson said: “The barriers for ­[basic income in] Scotland are lower than elsewhere in Britain, but they are insurmountable without either ­independence on one side or ­Westminster – DWP, HMRC, the Treasury – agreeing to collaborate.

“For instance, if you are in an area covered by a pilot, you are going to get a basic income. If you are on ­benefits, will you be sanctioned when the basic income trial stops?

“Or if you move, will you be taxed on basic income on top of your ­existing income and so on?

“So there is a lot of technical issues that the feasibility study looked at and if we are going to introduce it in Scotland, it really needs co-operation from Westminster.”