RADICAL proposals to sell off the Royal Bank of Scotland and hand £10,000 to everyone in the country when they turn 25 would fall short of what is needed to tackle inequality, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s closest advisers has said.

Professor Sir Harry Burns, who serves on the Scottish Government's Council of Economic Advisors, said the idea was “better than nothing”, but was no alternative to the plans for a basic income for all citizens currently being explored by ministers.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggested creating a “Citizens’ Wealth Fund” and giving every young adult in the UK a minimum inheritance of £10,000.

READ MORE: Britain should sell off RBS and give every 25-year-old £10,000, says think tank

It said this would be funded by selling off assets – including the Government’s stake in RBS – as well as capital transfers, new revenue streams, a small amount of borrowing and reinvested returns.

But Mr Burns, who was previously Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, said this would not offer the same level of security as a universal basic income – generally understood to take the form of a flat, unconditional income in place of the current work-related benefits system.

He said: “Anything that closes the wealth gap has to be better than nothing. But it’s not an alternative to universal basic income, where one is given the security from week to week of being able to meet your basic requirements. I wouldn’t rubbish this at all, but it’s not an alternative to basic income.”

He added: “What people need is a bit of security – the knowledge that they will be able to feed themselves and pay their rent in the coming weeks, without having Department for Work and Pensions rules suddenly leaving them without money for six weeks.”

READ MORE: Britain should sell off RBS and give every 25-year-old £10,000, says think tank

Mr Burns said he was “absolutely convinced” by the evidence showing a universal basic income – or citizens’ income – would save money in the long-term by raising living standards and giving people the security to go out and find work.

He said studies in North America showed “jaw-dropping” benefits for society, with the steady cash flow allowing people to take control of their lives.

He added: “There seems to be little doubt – if you raise people up out of poverty, everybody wins.”

Mr Burns has previously argued a citizens’ income would "transform life in deprived parts of Scotland", increasing life expectancy by boosting the incomes of the poorest.

He was Chief Medical Officer for nearly a decade and a close ally of Ms Sturgeon during her time as health secretary from 2007 to 2012.

READ MORE: Britain should sell off RBS and give every 25-year-old £10,000, says think tank

Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife and North Ayrshire councils all submitted applications to the Scottish Government last week to be among the first to explore piloting basic income plans. Ministers pledged to fund research into the scheme last year.

The left-of-centre IPPR said its proposal would help tackle what it described as growing inequality in the UK, “giving everyone a stake and a say in the economy”.

It said its Citizens’ Wealth Fund would be worth £186 billion in a decade if it was started in 2020/21 – helping to tackle some of society’s most challenging social problems.