Senscot Bulletin: 29.07.16

Dear members and friends,

            Although most people regard it as completely improbable – I find myself increasingly persuaded by the idea of a universal basic income (UBI). Just to be clear – I mean the unconditional right of every citizen to sufficient income to cover basic human needs – i.e. food, shelter, clothing etc; in essence, everyone getting paid just to live. You can add to your UBI by working; if you don’t need UBI, your tax code will remove it; UBI will replace almost all of the present cumbersome and stigmatised benefit system.
            The brilliant economist, John Maynard Keynes, anticipated that the western standard of living would multiply at least four times its 1930 level – and that, by 2030, we’d all be working just 15 hours weekly. The UK and USA are already five times wealthier than in 1930 – but the benefits have been captured by an elite. Even Keynes couldn’t have anticipated the pace at which technology is now replacing human labour. UBI is a way to ensure that this new wealth passes beyond global corporations – down to the general population.
            But the most persuasive attraction of UBI is the release it would bring from the enforced labour of crappy jobs which so many have to endure. With basic needs met – our work can become something we choose to do – and the idea that most would be idle is nonsense. Everyone has creative potential – and given the opportunity will pursue and fulfil it. Alongside love, our work has the potential to be the most rewarding experience of our lives; how wasteful for society that most are denied the chance. Good piece in the New Yorker.


I find myself wearying of the Brexit convolutions – it’s all too complicated; but thankfully Nicola is a ‘commando’ – her impressive speech this week affirms confidence in her administration’s grasp of this issue: solid. In general, though, the SNPs style of govt. is too centralist for me; social democracy needs a vision and practical institutions which transcend the state; which is where the medium of the social economy offers such opportunity. Both economic activity and the provision of services can be invested in a tier of local organisations owned and operated by communities. There is a natural appetite for such arrangements waiting to be released – but it needs the ‘centre’ to let go.


An article in the USA online YES magazine looks at Northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna where co-operatives drive the economy; in Bologna for instance, it is estimated that 85% of the city’s social services are provided by social co-ops. Compared with Mondragon, which is an overarching giant corporation, the Italian model is more an ‘ecosystem’ of interwoven networks which support each other – including financially. The article identifies six key lessons for building a co-op rich economy.


A report by David Floyd and Dan Gregory (for RBS) – ‘the forest for the trees’ – estimates that mainstream banks have around £3bn in outstanding lending to third sector organisations – probably double that of the so called ‘social investment market’. The report challenges social investment specialists to be clearer what specific gaps their publicly supported products are intended to fill. The report recognises the potential of informal peer-to-peer lending within our sector – like the Italian co-operatives above; a field which Senscot and others seek to develop through the Scottish Community Reinvestment Trust (SCRT). See July issue of SCRT bulletin.


“This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes but with a television huckster, a phoney billionaire, a textbook egomaniac….”  This is how Robert Kagan closes his gloomy article in the Washington Post. And Michael Moore, of all people, has circulated a worrying piece called ‘5 reasons why Trump will win’; he thinks Hilary Clinton is a weak candidate who is not trusted; and that there is a reckless mood abroad to ‘shake things up’. But I still can’t allow myself to contemplate such a catastrophe.

I had occasion to pass close to two police stations recently in South Queensferry and Callander – they were both closed – unmanned; my enquiries revealed that this has become the norm in Scotland – a decline in local presence. While I can see the benefits on a national police force to fight organised crime – the policing of communities, with all their peculiarities, should be according to the principle of subsidiarity – local democratic accountability. This is the conclusion of Reform Scotland’s report – ‘The Thinning Blue Line’.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Pain Concern, The Factory, 319 Craigpark Drive, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Furniture Plus Ltd, Transition Extreme Sports Limited, RAMH, The Church of Scotland, Inverness Women’s Aid, CHAP
EVENTS: The Glasgow Girls of Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk, 31 Jul; Portobello Market, 6 Aug; Stories of Origin: Annemarie Murland: Exhibition, 20 Aug; Meet the Artist: Penny Anderson, 27 Aug;
TENDERS: Garden Assistance Scheme 2017-2020 – North Lanarkshire Council, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Grounds Maintenance Framework, Challenge Fund Grant Opportunity – Childcare, Intranet & Website Solution – Maryhill HA and more. Join Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.

The SENs Weekly Update
: Kim writes:  This week’s Third Force News highlights concerns being raised by Unison that many of the Scotland’s third sector care providers are facing a ‘perfect storm’ – of increased demand for services and reducing income/funding levels – with mergers or the curbing of senior management salaries required to ensure that frontline services are maintained. In these difficult times, it is worth considering alternative approaches – both here and abroad. Already we know that a number of social care charities across the UK intend to pilot the Buurtzorg model. Another example is the Italian social co-operative model where – in Emilia Romagna – over 80% of social services are provided via local, self-organising social co-ops. And, closer to home, we have the Care and Wellbeing Co-op in Perthshire.


Whilst there has been considerable talk and debate on foodbanks, we heard last week of something along similar lines, but a bit different – the People’s Fridge. The People’s Fridge is a public fridge where local businesses and residents can leave spare, edible food for those who need it. It will be run by a group of local volunteers and aims to cut food waste, encourage food sharing and help tackle food poverty. The Fridge is based in Brixton in London. One already exists in Somerset – as well as other parts of Europe – all with the focus of cutting food waste and helping boost the sharing economy.


The Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) is a network of island community organisations that aims to share ideas and innovations between the islands as well as give a voice to some of the common challenges felt by these communities.  SIF’s new Development Worker, Kirsty MacColl, has been in touch re a survey they are carrying out to find out thoughts on the main challenges and opportunities facing these island communities. They’d appreciate if any islands-based readers could take a few minutes to complete their survey.


During the past year I lost interest in the daily newsfeeds from the English third sector – they become obsessed with the issue of dodgy fundraising practices – of little interest. Thanks largely to the leadership of SCVO – Scotland has followed a more considered path; our sector consulted widely – then adopted the self-regulation option – with investment in complaints handling (new contact point) and OSCR as a long stop. This blog from Jude Turbyne (OSCR’s Head of Engagement) briefly sets out the Scottish process.


Still on SCVO – they are currently running their Social Enterprise Summer social media campaign again this year – using the hashtag #SocEntSummer. Themes include ‘hotels with a heart’ and a ‘rush of goodwill’.


This week’s bulletin takes the opportunity to profile one of SCVO’s ‘hotels with a heart’. The Callander Hostel is run by local social enterprise, Callander Youth Project Trust (CYPT), and provides a range of activities for young people from all backgrounds across the rural Stirling area, helping them reach their full potential. The hostel was recently refurbished – holding a 5 star rating – and offers a mix of dormitory and double bedroom accommodation. The hostel also has its own Bistro and Beer Garden. Importantly, it also provides training opportunities for young people as well as vital space to continue CYPT’s programmes including skills workshops and support for young entrepreneurs.


From ‘I’ll Fares the Land’ by Tony Judt.


“But there is a significant distinction between ‘socialism’ and ‘social democracy’. Socialism was about transformative change: the displacement of capitalism with a successor regime based on an entirely different system of production and ownership. Social democracy, in contrast, was a compromise: it implied the acceptance of capitalism – and parliamentary democracy – as the framework within which the hitherto neglected interests of large sections of the population would now be addressed. These differences matter. Socialism – under all its many guises and hyphenated incarnations – has failed. Social democracy has not only come to power in many countries, it has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its founders.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210