Square icon with the words Is It Time for Universal Basic Income

Is It Time for Universal Basic Income?

Festival of Ideas Online/
Tue 13 October 2020


Is It Time for Universal Basic Income?

Square icon with the words Is It Time for Universal Basic Income
Tue 13 October 2020,


As a scheme which guarantees a flat-rate income for every individual, regardless of employment status, universal basic income (UBI) is seen by some as the future of welfare policy – to promote lifelong learning, support well-being, and help alleviate the impact of automation on the labour market.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic – which has exposed gaps in existing social safety nets and threatens the very foundations of the modern global economy – calls for UBI are more prevalent than ever. In combination with an apparent sea change in attitudes towards austerity, debt, and fiscal expansion, and the support of mainstream commentators for once-radical policies such as monetary financing and ‘sovereign money’ – the COVID-19 crisis has stimulated new ways of thinking about economic and social policy.

A number of countries as diverse as Hong Kong, Brazil, the US and Spain have proposed universal or quasi-universal handouts, to replace lost incomes and stimulate recovery. Everywhere, governments have torn up existing monetary rules and expanded welfare provisions and business supports drastically. But responses have been diverse, reflecting political and institutional variation.

It remains to be seen how robust the responses will be, and how their redistributive consequences will be settled, over the longer term. Are we witnessing a genuine paradigm shift, or will orthodoxy prevail? Is UBI now a distinct possibility, or an unfeasible pipe-dream? How will societies and economies face up to the new realities of living and working as we emerge from the immediate health crisis into profound economic uncertainty?

At this conference, organised by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath and Bristol Festival of Ideas, leading thinkers, politicians and policymakers come together with the public to debate these issues and to explore new approaches to macro-economic policy-making, the prospects for UBI, and the political economy of social and economic change.

Please click here for a detailed programme of the day.

Confirmed speakers include: Mike Brewer (Resolution Foundation), Jagjit Chadha (National Institute of Economic and Social Research), Jamie Cooke (RSA Scotland), Frances Coppola, Geoff Crocker (Basic Income Forum), Jon Cruddas, Emma Dawnay, Aida Garcia-Lazaro (IPR, University of Bath), Jane Gingrich (University of Oxford), John Harris (Guardian), Anke Hassel (Hertie School), Gavin Kelly (Resolution Trust), Neal Lawson (Compass), Jane Millar (IPR, University of Bath), Jo Michell (UWE Bristol), Nick Pearce (IPR, University of Bath), Carys Roberts (IPPR), Martin Sandbu (Financial Times), Libby Schaaf (Mayor of Oakland, California), James Smith (Resolution Foundation), Alfie Stirling (New Economics Foundation), Polly Toynbee (Guardian) and Michael Tubbs (Mayor of Stockton, California).

All sessions will be live streamed on our Crowdcast platform (you can find out more about how this works in our blog).  Please also use the registration form to let us have your views on UBI.

Please click here to download Anke Hassel’s presentation.

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