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Scotland is considering a universal basic income. Here's why countries are putting cash directly in the hands of workers as the pandemic continues.

Nicola Sturgeon
  • In a daily coronavirus pandemic briefing on Tuesday, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the "time has come" to seriously consider universal basic income for Scots. 
  • Universal basic income is a policy that guarantees a minimum income for citizens or residents, usually paid in the form of cash handouts by the government. 
  • Interim universal basic income policies have already been implemented in a number of countries, including in the US, Spain, and Denmark.
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Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who leads the government's cabinet, said "the time has come" to seriously consider universal basic income, a policy that guarantees a minimum income for every citizen in the form of cash handouts from the government.
For the political leader, the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic makes the idea a strong option, The Times in the UK reports. Scotland's chief economist, Gary Gillespie, estimates that the country's economy could shrink by 12% this year, and warned that not all businesses would be able to survive the lockdown.
"The experience of the virus and the economic consequences of that have made me much, much more strongly of the view that it is an idea that's time has come," she said Tuesday at a daily briefing in Edinburgh.
Sturgeon said there will be "constructive discussions" with the UK government on the matter. Ultimately, it is the UK government's decision whether to create a national plan.
Other countries have started similar conversations, or have already implemented some sort of universal basic income. In the US, Congress passed the CARES Act, which includes a one-time check of up to $1,200 dollars for Americans who qualify under the stimulus package. However, some lawmakers say that doesn't go far enough. Recently, House Democrats introduced the Emergency Money for the People Act, which would give $2,000 a month for at least six months to Americans over the age of 16 who make less than $130,000 a year.
In Spain, the government is planning to pay a basic monthly income to about a million of the country's poorest households, Reuters reported. Nadia Calviño, the country's minister for economic affairs, had previously told the Spanish broadcaster laSexta that the government hopes universal basic income will become "a permanent instrument," Business Insider reported.
Other countries are adopting similar measures in the form of interim or emergency universal basic incomes. For example, France is offering self-employed workers up to $1,600. In Hong Kong, the government will pay 50% of workers' salaries for six months, and Denmark will pay 75% to 90% of workers' salaries on behalf of employers, as long as workers aren't laid off, Business Insider reported.
SEE ALSO: House Dems just proposed $2,000 payments for many Americans, creating a basic income to see the US through the pandemic.
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