Delivering universal basic services in Scotland
by Rethinking Poverty
IPPR Scotland last week published their report Universal basic services: Building financial security in Scotland. Over a series of publications, IPPR Scotland has argued that in order to tackle the financial insecurity faced by many families across Scotland, policymakers should be focussed on delivering a ‘living income’ for all.
This report explores the potential for a universal basic services approach across new areas – including care, transport, information, food and utilities – to bring more people in Scotland closer to a living income. It states: ‘as we look towards a looming energy cost crisis and rising food prices, there is an acute need to help families manage in the face of rising living costs’.
The report defines a universal basic service approach as ‘a framework for providing collective services that meet basic needs’. It aims to deliver a floor for living standards in Scotland, by guaranteeing ‘a minimum standard of life’. Universal services have a key role to play in wellbeing, as well as the climate crisis, as they can meet people’s needs within our planetary limits, and continue to provide for future generations.
The paper identifies the largest costs facing families below a living income, and recommends that ‘action to reduce childcare and transport costs will be key to guaranteeing a decent standard of living for every family’. It also identifies energy, housing and food as areas in which ‘rising costs associated with meeting basic needs are putting families’ budgets under growing strain. However, it acknowledges that ‘with significant tax raising and borrowing powers reserved to Westminster, the Scottish government would not be able to move to a universal basic services approach across the range of services explored in this report immediately’. The authors of the report also propose that:
‘the Scottish government launch an independent commission on the future of public services in Scotland, to consider these questions with a view to shaping the next decade of public service innovation delivery’.
Read the full report here.