top of page

The Panels

Basic Income and the Arts
Associate Professor Tully Barnett, Dr Sam Whiting, Professor Justin O'Connor, 

Increasing awareness of a crisis of declining income, increased precarity and decreased equity in the arts and culture sector has generated a particular interest in the role that a Basic Income for Artists (BIA) could play in equitable access to a strong arts and culture sector. Additionally, it’s considered a means of minimising the onerous and costly bureaucratic tasks of grant bidding and acquittal and providing funds directly to artists. A large-scale BIA trial in Ireland, including 2,000 artists receiving €325 a week for 3 years, offers a potential model and its early evaluation highlights significant benefits not only to individuals and communities but to the arts sector more broadly and beyond.

Our panels will address different aspects of how a UBI or a specific basic income for artists would impact arts and culture and its workers. Is a BIA a viable solution to the crisis of artists’ incomes, which also relates to student debt, lack of affordable housing, lack of paid cultural employment and casualisation. What consequences does it have for institutional and infrastructural funding – theatres, orchestras, music touring agencies – or for the wider commercial cultural sector. Would a basic income for artists make creative labour more accessible for artists with less privileged backgrounds. What problem, in the end, is it trying to solve and with what success?

We also consider how BIA relates to the broader UBI vision and associated debates. For example, one of the arguments for UBI is that it frees us from basic poverty and wage-slave drudgery, allowing those who so wish to engage in passion-driven or community-spirited work or practice. Or indeed, to spend it on the horses. Whatever we might think of this, BIA is aimed at facilitating one professional group to do its own work better, potentially solving some of the most significant challenges that serve as barriers to working as artists.

More food but not more food security: Why basic income is a necessary, but insufficient component of transformative change in our food system
Ben Earle

With an evidence based approach, this panel will examine how basic income may be a necessary, but insufficient, part of the solution to the complex challenges of food insecurity in Canada. By first examining how improved income security, provided by a basic income, would have the effect of increasing access to food for diverse groups who are experiencing food insecurity, this panel will ask participants to take a critical perspective in asking whether this is a sufficient condition for transformative change. From this point, the panel will address the question whether basic income can be a vehicle of radical transformation of food systems, or a rather a tool to reform and rehabilitate the injustices of our current capitalist system that has commodified food and made food security a condition of market access.
Starting with the perspective from Canada, an examination of how a basic income would improve access to food for many food insecure households by ensuring improved access to food markets, but will fall short, on its own, of addressing the fundamental challenges of an unsustainable food system that have commodified food and reduced food security to a question of income security. This examination will place basic income, as an income security policy in the Canadian context, and will assess a basic income’s role in both addressing the injustice of the current food markets and in supporting systemic change in our food system, including transformative shifts toward perspectives that support food as a commons.
The panel would welcome diverse perspectives from panelists from other jurisdictions who are examining how a basic income can be part of processes to transform access to food and food systems.

How to put basic income on the political agenda in developed countries
Alexander De Roo 

Some countries like Switserland, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, USA, Great Britain there is experience in puting basic income higher on the political agenda. What van we learn from each other

Sowing the seeds of stability: A case for a basic income for farmers, farm workers and food producers in the UK.
Joanna Poulton

Universal Basic Income for Farmers: Lessons from early conversations with farmers, farmworkers and food producers - interactive discussion and report launch.

"Without reimagining finance, transition will be impossible at the scale and pace necessary to prevent climate and biodiversity collapse.”

From labourers to landowners, livelihoods in agriculture are often precarious. A lack of funded pathways into farming makes careers in producing food both hard to access and difficult to sustain. Finding ways to support these livelihoods will be critical to building the resilient, sustainable and just local food systems we need.

Join Jo & Hamish of UBI4FARMERS for an interactive workshop where we will also be discussing our new report, with findings from a year of hosting conversations with farmers around the UK.

UBI4FARMERS is a campaign created by a fresh working group of growers, farmers, academics and union co-ordinators. The aim of the campaign is to encourage farmers and food producers to discuss possible solutions to the financial barriers they face.

UBI and the Eco-Social State: Transformation, Reform, or both?
Dominik Schröder and Bianca Blum
The panel explores the intersection of Universal Basic Income (UBI), the notion of an Eco-Social State and the potential for a Social-Ecological Transformation. It questions whether the implementation of UBI signifies a transformation or reform, and what kind of transformation it might entail.

The session contains a perspective from reform economics, suggesting that UBI could be more than just a reform; it could be a catalyst for a broader socio-ecological transformation. It delves into the nuances of a transformation, examining the potential impacts and implications of UBI on social and ecological systems.

It could be discussed that if UBI, coupled with robust green social reforms, like the European Green Deal, could drive a paradigm shift towards sustainability and social equity, the question of ‘transformation or reform’ may not be an either/or scenario.

This session provides insights and a room for further discussions in this area, emphasizing the need for innovative and inclusive policies in response to our pressing socio-ecological challenges.

Possible questions and topics that we would like to address:
What steps and policy measures are needed for a successful transformation towards an Eco-Social State? Big Bang reform or gradualism?
How to govern green social policies towards an Eco-Social State?
Does a UBI need additional or complementary policies to reach an impact on a social-ecological transformation?
Debating the role of growth and UBI in the Eco-Social State
Do we need UBI (or UBI like) policies to strengthen the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?
Cash 'plus' what? From pilots to policy coherence in Sub-Saharan Africa?
James Copestake

The panel will draw on case studies from Malawi and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa to explore the complex policy evolution involved in seeking to move from multiple and largely externally funded ‘cash plus’ income and asset transfer pilot projects to more coherent, nationally owned and comprehensive use of cash transfer programmes that aim to serve a range of social, economic and political goals. Questions to be addressed include the following:
(1) To what extent have pilot ‘cash plus’ projects succeeded in generating evidence to inform design of more comprehensive and durable policies?
(2) What has influenced progress – or lack of it - towards harmonizing cash transfer design options, particularly policy goals and the ‘plus’ component (also eligibility criteria, value/timing of transfers, disbursement mechanisms)?
(3) How have pilot projects helped or hindered development of the infrastructure underpinning government-to-people-payments including individual/household registration systems, digital and other last-mile financial services?
(4) What evidence is there of the efficacy of linking cash to provision of different services, including early childhood support, business promotion, VSLA linkage, disaster/crisis management, gender-based social and community development?
(5) How have ‘cash plus’ projects and programmes affected and been affected by the relationship between different government departments at national and local levels?
(6) What does this reveal about how far policy processes in the region differ, both within the region and beyond?
(7) What methodologies are most credible and cost-effective for generating useful evidence of the direct and indirect effects of cash plus projects and programmes?

Does UBI Care?
Hannah Webster and Ruth Hanan

The possibility of a Basic Income (BI) poses a range of potential benefits for society, particularly when placed in contrast to the existing welfare state in countries like the UK. Discussions of such benefits often cite these in relation to care, considering the potential impact of valuing currently unpaid labour, with particular exploration given to gendered inequality.

But, is there a risk that without the necessary design considerations, a basic income merely rewards and reinforces the existing provisions and experiences of care? Or, worse, that a BI undermines efforts to reposition care within our economy by considering the case closed?

The evidence base of longer term impact from BI trials with any particular focus on care is limited. The basic income for care leavers in Wales specifically bridges the gap between institutional care and individual outcomes, but less is considered from the perspective of individual and collective caring activities. In the absence of a substantial evidence base, we are left to rely on our wider understanding of the social and economic landscape such a basic income might land in. Under this framing, it becomes harder to predict the complex impacts of such a far-reaching new policy, and less realistic to assume that inequalities might resolve themselves so easily.

In this panel, we will explore the potential for a BI to shift us to a more care full economy, and the design considerations - for both a basic income and our economic system more widely - that will be required to deliver on the potential of BI in relation to care. We will create space for discussion on how these ideas might be taken forward, including the role of participation in the design of BI trials and suggestions for growing the evidence base in relation to care.

Transition from Universal Credit to UBI
Martin Osbourne, Cleo Goodman, 
We propose that there is a panel session which will look at how we could get from the current welfare and tax system in the UK to one that paves the way for an introduction of a UBI. The Green Party of England and Wales have been working on this for a while now and Autonomy have a similar project underway. There is synergy between the two organisations and the panel session would act as an opportunity to share thoughts from each and it would also act as a discussion forum for others to contribute. Depending on the progress of Autonomy’s project, it could also serve as a launch for their report or as a further opportunity to influence, and depending on the election date, it could also work to be an announcement of the Green Party of England and Wales proposal for their General Election manifesto.
Exploring Gender Balance and Perspectives in Basic Income Research
Jessica Schulz, Clem Davies
Many academic disciplines grapple with a persistent dual gender problem—marked by an evident lack of gender balance among scholars and a deficiency of gender-focussed perspectives within research agendas. The field of basic income, which has potential to revolutionise social welfare systems and livelihoods, holds tremendous potential for societal transformation, particularly impacting women who often find themselves outside the formal labour market, engaged in caregiving responsibilities, and at risk of retiring in poverty. These challenges go beyond gender in affecting diverse minority groups, emphasising the need for a comprehensive feminist analysis of gender and power dynamics in basic income research.
Recognizing the significance of both gender balance and gender perspectives, we propose a panel discussion to investigate these facets within the realm of basic income research. We invite submissions employing diverse methodological, intersectional approaches to explore the topic, for example through addressing the following questions:
• Gender Disparities in Contribution: How do contributions to the discourse on basic income vary among genders across journals, books, citations, opinion pieces, conferences, or other fora where basic income knowledge is produced or exchanged?
• Integration of Gender Perspectives: To what extent does the existing body of basic income literature incorporate gendered perspectives? What are the primary topics and discussions surrounding basic income and gender? What repercussions emerge from (the absence of) a gender-inclusive lens in research?
• Barriers and Inclusivity in Basic Income Research: What impediments exist within the basic income community that hinder more diverse engagement? Is the “disarmingly simple idea” sufficient in addressing the complex challenges of diverse groups? Can lessons from other fields of research be adapted to foster inclusivity and harness the full spectrum of talent?
• Relevance of Diverse Representations and Perspectives Specifically to UBI: Is there a specific imperative for UBI research and activism to incorporate more diverse representation and perspectives?
The role of UBI for social sustainability
Dominik Schröder, Bianca Blum, Ulrich Schachtschneider

If we want to discuss why a Universal Basic Income, or policies that come close to it, are a step towards more “Social Sustainability”, we first have to consider that there are many different interpretations of what is meant with “Social Sustainability” in both scientific and political debate.
For example we can differentiate some general approaches "Development Social Sustainability" that allows people to satisfy basic needs so that they can begin to address bio-physical environmental problems at all. “Maintenance Social Sustainablity " refers to the preservation of those practices, traditions, preferences that people want to maintain or expand as quality of life in the context of social and economic change. "Bridge Social Sustainability ")can be understand as a social environment that can support a change in people's relationships with both natural and social environment (Dixon, Perkins, Vallance 2011).
To the contrary more concretely and operationally oriented definitions of Social Sustainability we find in indicator catalogues developed at many levels and sometimes also adopted as policy guidelines. For example, 52 indicators of the EU Sustainable Development Indicator Set measure the social dimension, e.g. data on poverty, inclusion, education, violence, purchasing power, suicide rates, corruption, justice expenditure and many more (Mc Guinn 2020).
Last but not least, a distinction can be made between substantive and procedural understandings. While the former focus on concrete social qualities such as poverty or crime rates, the “what”, the latter do not want to commit to such goals. What matters for the stability of societies is the "how", the process of decision-making involving as many as possible, the acceptance of procedures.
In this panel we want to reflect on the possible role of a UBI, which indeed is depending on the interpretation we start with.

Understanding ‘UBI Plus’: What can complementary community interventions contribute to realising UBI’s transformative potential?
Joel Lazarus, Maria Franchi

Feminist critics of UBI argue that, alongside cash payments, additional interventions aimed at addressing inequalities are required to overcome UBI’s potential gendered and intersectional impacts (Koslowski and Duvander 2018, Birnbaum and De Wispelaere, 2016). Some go further to imagine a UBI providing the space and time for collective transformative redefinitions of work, care, and leisure. This would require a UBI designed to meet people’s needs not just for labour market autonomy - achieved through cash payments - , but for recognition, participation, and political agency to turn the potential for emergent social relations into a transformative political project (Fraser 2008).

In response, a growing number of UBI pilots are incorporating complementary community interventions into their pilot design such as community organising, work-based and empowerment programmes, and care-focused and peace building initiatives. One major example of such a pilot is the WorkFREE project. WorkFREE is a collaboration between UK and Indian researchers and civil society organisations that combines Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCTs) with community organising with over 1,200 people living in informal settlements in Hyderabad, India.

We refer to designs that combine UCTs with community intervention elements as ‘UBI Plus’. We propose that, whilst Basic Income is an individualised payment, in its universality and unconditionality lie the potential for community cohesion and cultural, economic, and environmental change. Consequently, understanding the community and relational aspects of its potential are crucial to the realisation of UBI as a transformative social policy. We ask whether such community-oriented relational ‘Plus’ add-ons might complement and enhance UBI’s transformative potential.

Our panel will provide an opportunity for those involved in such pilots to share their rationale, design and the impacts of combining an unconditional cash payment with opportunities to build community and relationships and to compare and discuss the efficacy of various approaches to enhance the transformative potential of UBI.

The role of social, cultural, environmental and political context in realising the transformational potential of UBI
Maria Franchi, Clem Davies, Chloe Halpenny,

A predominant narrative within the basic income research field is that UBI alone will act as a catalyst for transformative change not only in the economic but in the social, cultural, environmental and political (SCEP) spheres. For example, current gender-neutral approaches in both empirical and conceptual research have failed to meaningfully take account of or address structural forms of injustice occurring along intersecting axes of power and oppression that can affect the efficacy of UBI. Indeed, it may perpetuate existing inequities.
We aim to demonstrate through an intersectional feminist approach that embedding UBI into its context would result in enhancing its transformative potential. Based on feminist analysis of contemporary pilot experiments, we have designed a framework to better enable SCEP context to be incorporated into the design of pilots and policy, thereby better understanding and addressing global and specific existing structural and intersectional inequalities.
We propose this panel to highlight the importance of context specific analysis in design in order to take account of and mitigate the differential impacts of existing inequalities, to share our work and invite others who have alternative approaches or strategies to do so.

UBI towards an alternative hedonism?
Robert Ulmer

UBI towards an alternative hedonism?


The concept of “alternative hedonism” challenges mainstream interpretations of hedonism which are rooted in materialism, consumerism, and instant gratification and are both ethically and ecologically unsustainable. It also rejects the framing more sustainable lifestyles as having to do without, or as a sacrifice. Instead, alternative hedonism emphasises the wellbeing benefits of more ecological ways of living, including increased free time, improved social relations, and lives in harmony with the natural environment.

This panel seeks to (critically) delve into the role of UBI in achieving alternative hedonism: What does an ecologically sustainable and fulfilling life look like and how does it align with the freedom inherent to UBI.

Cash-based Social Policy in India
Vibhor Mathur, Dr Sarath Davala and Tarun Cherukuri

India has witnessed a massive boom in the use of direct, and often unconditional, cash transfers as a tool of social and economic policy (Dar et al, 2023). Cutting across party lines, the political and policy gains of direct cash transfers is making them an undeniably lucrative part of any policy package. Cash is seen as having the advantage of not being plagued by the same delivery inefficiencies as traditional welfare (eg. PDS) owing to rapid strides in financial payment technologies, identification systems and the penetration of bank accounts, along with having the political gains of patronage associated with giving cash directly in the hands of people. Unconditional cash transfers are also making their way into civil society programming, with both donors and practitioners seeing the appeal of channeling money directly to recipients. However, in a country with only an incomplete welfare system, cash transfers or direct benefit transfers (as they are called in India), run the risk of undermining focus on more traditional social policy investment in nutrition, health and education. Further, it risks further entrenching a politically transient and patronage-based view of social policy and welfare, rather than building a rights-based narrative. In this context, this panel welcomes evidence and conversations around trialling cash transfers in India, their social and political framings, their synergies and violations in relation to other policies and what the future of the social policy landscape in India can look like.

bottom of page