University of Bath Prize Research Fellow, Dr Neil Howard, has organised an open letter published today and now signed by nearly 500 academics and thought leaders from around the world, calling for governments to urgently implement universal basic income in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Universal Basic Income (UBI), also known as basic income and citizen’s basic income, is a radical proposal for a guaranteed, unconditional income for each citizen regardless of their employment status. The idea has gained ground in recent years, including through high-profile UBI experiments in Finland and India.

Today’s letter, published this afternoon in the Independent, is signed by leading experts in economics and the political economy, including British Professors Guy Standing, Frances Stewart and Barbara Harriss-White; as well as political representatives, including Baroness Ruth Lister.

Dr Neil Howard, Prize Research Fellow within our Department of Social & Policy Sciences and one of the organisers of the open letter, researches UBI and its effect on people’s everyday lives. Most recently he has worked in India and Bangladesh where proponents see great potential for the policy.

He explains: “Basic income is one of the simplest social policies imaginable – it consists of no more than giving all people a modest, regular, unconditional cash sum, much like a pension, but for everyone.

“The idea is to make sure that everyone has the minimum of cash needed to survive in a cash economy. Right now, amidst economic collapse, ever increasing numbers are finding their ability to access cash through employment blocked; basic income is going to be necessary just to keep them alive.”

The full letter - ‘Why more than 500 academics globally have called for universal basic income in the fight against coronavirus’ - is published via the Independent.