Looking back at Basic Income Conversation

After more than three years of powering Basic Income Conversation, Compass is no longer the host organisation. The Conversation is entering a new era, with the project finding a new home at Autonomy

Autonomy is an independent, progressive research organisation that focuses on tackling climate change, the future of work and economic planning. We have worked with them before on the report that informed the design of the Welsh Basic Income Pilot. They also coordinated and ran the world’s largest four-day work week pilot across the UK – which was a resounding success. 

Just last year, the Conversation published reports and resources on:

We organised from the grassroots and across civil society to make sure everyone has a say in the movement towards a basic income for all:

  • Supported communities leading consultations in their local area and develop proposals for micro-pilots that show how their neighbourhood could thrive with a basic income
  • Instigated door knocking activities to reach people who have never heard of a basic income
  • Coordinated an open letter to the Prime Minister co-signed by 285 politicians and civil society leaders calling on him to set up a task force on basic income and implement pilots in all four nations
  • With the UBI Lab Network, launched a letter writing campaign people across London write letters to their London Assembly members asking them to support a motion in support of a London basic income pilot. 

We held events:

  • Seminars with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Autonomy
  • A panel session with Autonomy at The World Transformed 2022 in Liverpool alongside the Labour conference with Mayors Andy Burnham and Jamie Driscoll and Beth Winter MP.
  • An episode on the Compass podcast, It’s Bloody Complicated — The Welsh Basic Income pilot — The What, How and Why with Jonathan Williams.
  • Helped host the Basic Income North conference and contributed to the People’s Powerhouse convention in Manchester.
  • Welcomed key speakers, dozens of people and making front page news with our event with Basic Income Network Scotland in Edinburgh
  • And of course had Basic Income Conversations, bringing hundreds of people together for this crucial conversation!

Going forward, Cleo Goodman, the co-founder of The Conversation has moved with the project to Autonomy. But the journey isn’t over on our end – Compass will stay involved in the movement for basic income. We’ll keep publishing papers, and pushing politicians to support and advocate for basic income.

This transfer was a difficult decision to make, but the right one. Compass has to fight an election. We need a change of government, but more than that we need to change our political system. To set both projects up for success, now is the time for us to part ways.

Moreover, Basic Income Conversation’s focus has grown. The driving belief is that talking the talk is how we win a basic income in the UK. But we’re also looking at walking – specifically running basic income demonstrations in the UK. The Autonomy team has the experience, the knowledge, and the resources to make that a reality.

For the last two years, the Conversation has been leading community consultations with local residents through the Lottery-funded Big Local programme and developing proposals for micro-pilots that show how their neighbourhood could thrive with a basic income. Last month, they released the proposal for a micro-pilot in the first steps of bringing this project to life.

The response has been HUGE. 

Will appeared on Channel 4 News, Jack spoke to Vanessa Feltz on Talk TV, Cleo spoke to Colin Murray on BBC Radio 5Live. Basic income trended on Twitter, the coverage of the proposal was the most read article on The Guardian website and much, much more

The response was overwhelmingly positive, with small pockets of disagreement based on the same old, disproven arguments. 

That’s the beauty of this project. It came from these communities and we’ve designed the proposal to work without support from central government, the DWP or HMRC. It’s a small, feasible step that we can take together, now. 

Over the last two years while the Conversation was at Compass, we steered the project forward, but its power came from local teams in the Big Locals. 

We hope that the Conversation continues to go from strength to strength and secures the investment for these pilots. We could see a basic income in people’s pockets in England for the first time very soon. 

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