SHONA Craven acknowledges that Universal Basic Income (UBI) has the potential to ask fundamental questions about life and work, but then is prepared to dismiss it on the basis of the briefest of Commons reports and the UK’s disastrous housing costs.

There are many different models for UBI, but most acknowledge it could not cover housing benefit, which would have to be continued.

Housing benefit costs will only be addressed by questioning the role of housing in our society. Like any other universal benefit, and universal services such as free education and healthcare, UBI should be supported by progressive taxation.

Everyone gets the benefit or service, but those with higher incomes or wealth put more into the system so that the result is redistributive.

We should welcome this. The difficulty comes in convincing people that these changes are for the greater good. The groups who will lose out from a more progressive taxation system are always quick to portray it as an attack on all working people and all savers.

These are self-serving arguments that have to be challenged, along with the implication that taxation is only money lost and not services gained. (We also have to resist right-wing proponents of basic income who would use it as a replacement for other universal services turning everyone into a consumer in a services market.)

Basic income is not a panacea and has to be part of a much broader programme, but it can make a major contribution to progressive change. The proposed Basic Income pilots are inevitably limited and still have some way to go in framing the particular questions that they will be seeking to answer, but they are already playing an important role in putting the concept of Basic Income into public debate. The public discussion I attended in Kelty was one of the most positive day’s politics I have been party to for a long time, and I would urge Shona and anyone else interested to look out for further presentations and debates.

Sarah Glynn, Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, Dundee

SHONA Craven’s main objection to Universal Basic Income seems to be the hike in tax that may be needed to pay for it. Has she thought about introducing a Land Tax to cover it?

This would also have the side effect of redistributing wealth, making land available and reducing house prices.

I have asked Mhairi Black for her thoughts on Land Tax but to date have not had a reply. Seems to me it’s a win-win.

Catherine Gilchrist


FORGET the “Robin Hood tax”. What the people need is a “milk-Maid Marian (divvy) tax”. Corporations are feeding on the people’s pastures and are now heavy with milk. We have to relieve them of it.

The equity main market value of the London Stock Exchange is £2530 billion (LSE Group Factsheet, August 2017). A divvy tax would require companies, on the issue of their audited annual report, to create a number of new shares, to rank equal with the existing, and transfer them to the National Investment Bank proposed by Labour and the SNP. A half per cent levy would raise £12.67bn.

How this would be spent is open for discussion. An equitable way would be to distribute the proceeds of sales and dividends on a per capita basis to local authorities to spend on services and capital projects.

Geoff Naylor


THE full page advertisement published in The National on Thursday, September 7, by Mainstream Renewable Power and the NNG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition states “RSPB Scotland, please work with us”.

Your readers ought to be aware that we have been working constructively with Mainstream Renewable Power for almost 10 years.

We would like to continue to do so and have indicated this on a number of occasions.

It is a source of considerable pride that RSPB Scotland has helped to ensure the multi-billion pound onshore wind industry is a real Scottish success story generating huge amounts of clean, green energy with relatively small impacts on birdlife.

We remain ready and willing to engage with the developing offshore industry so we can help ensure it becomes equally as successful without damaging our internationally important seabird populations.

Anne McCall

Director, RSPB Scotland