Podcast episodes

Episode #30: Basic income – more than just cash

man counting money in his hands

Regular cash transfers, no strings attached and no questions asked. What is their potential? Can it disrupt the power dynamic between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’? Will it lay the foundation of a caring economy, and caring society? Can it become the norm, not the exception?

Can basic income rewrite the narrative about poverty?

In this episode, I’m joined by two guests with first-hand experience of designing and implementing basic income interventions.

Melody Valdes is Chief Program Officer of United South End Settlements (USES) in Boston in the US. She leads the implementation of the S.T.E.P. guaranteed income intervention for vulnerable families.

Sarath Davala is Research Director of the WorkFREE project, a universal basic income pilot in the city of Hyderabad in India. He is also President of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a large network of organisations and individuals working on basic income around the world.

Together we discuss the rationale of basic income and how it can radically reform our society and the provision of welfare. We hear about choices in how to implement the interventions in Boston and Hyderabad respectively, both trialling ‘plus’ approaches that combine income supplements with additional services. Sarath and Melody share the changes they observed in the communities and families they are working with, and make a powerful case for basic income as a step in the right direction.

In this episode, Sarath mentions GiveDirectly – large cash transfer interventions that have been widely studied. He also makes reference to ‘cash plus’ approaches and my work in Bangladesh. This is the CLARISSA ‘cash plus’ intervention that seeks to improve family wellbeing and reduce harmful child labour in a slum area in the country’s capital Dhaka.  

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