Following the COVID-19 pandemic – which has exposed gaps in existing social safety nets and precipitated deep economic recessions around the world – calls for universal basic income (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.

On 12 and 13 October the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) in partnership with Bristol Festival Ideas hosts two online events, welcoming leading thinkers, politicians and policymakers to debate these issues.

Leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory and New York Times bestseller, Stephanie Kelton, will begin proceedings on 12 October with her lecture, ‘The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and How to Build a Better Economy’. She is considered one of the most important voices influencing the policy debate today in the USA.

On 13 October the discussion continues with an all-day conference, ‘Is it time for universal basic income?’, featuring a variety of contributors including Martin Sandbu (Financial Times); Polly Toynbee (The Guardian); Jon Cruddas MP; and speakers from the Resolution Foundation, IPPR, New Economics Foundation, the Hertie School, and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). They will debate the political economy after COVID-19; lessons from the financial crisis; fiscal policy, monetary policy and basic income; and UBI, work and welfare.

During the day, we will also hear from Libby Schaaf (Mayor of Oakland), Michael Tubbs (Mayor of Stockton), and Professor Olavi Kangas (University of Turku) on their perspectives on UBI, and their experiences and results from local and national pilot programmes.

On hosting these events, Director of the IPR, Professor Nick Pearce, adds:

"We’re delighted to be holding these events with the Bristol Festival of Ideas this week. It’s a great opportunity, not only to contribute our own research to public debate, but also hear from a variety of leading thinkers on how we can reshape our economy and welfare state."

Director of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, Festival of Ideas and Festival of the Future City, Andrew Kelly, adds:

"Everywhere, governments are tearing up existing monetary rules, but responses have been diverse and whether orthodoxy will still prevail remains uncertain. In such times, debates that can draw upon wide-ranging expertise is essential. I look forward to learning more from what I am sure will be a series of stimulating discussions."