Published on 2 January 2024
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How can universal basic infrastructure support growth?

Rory Cellan-Jones talks to Jean-Paul Azam, Diane Coyle and Andy Westwood about the potential of universal basic income to tackle regional inequalities, boost economic growth in ‘left behind’ and growing places, and rebuild democracy.

This episode unpacks why current policies are failing to tackle regional inequalities and how a universal basic infrastructure might boost productivity across all places. Leading experts examine the value of infrastructure in different country contexts and how different levels of different departments and levels of government could work together to deliver a universal basic infrastructure in all places. 

This episode is hosted by Rory Cellan-Jones (former technology correspondent for the BBC), and features guest experts Jean-Paul Azam (IAST), Diane Coyle (Bennett Institute) and Andy Westwood (University of Manchester). 

Listen to this episode on your preferred podcast platform

Season 3 Episode 4 transcript

For more information about the podcast and the work of the institutes, visit our websites at and

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With thanks to:

Audio production by Steve Hankey
Associate production by Stella Erker
Visuals by Tiffany Naylor

Related links:

More information about our host and guests:

Rory Cellan-Jones was a technology correspondent for the BBC. His 40 years in journalism have seen him take a particular interest in the impact of the internet and digital technology on society and business. He has also written multiple books, including “Always On” (2021) and his latest “Ruskin Park: Sylvia, Me and the BBC” which was published in 2023. @ruskin147

Jean-Paul Azam is a professor of economics Emeritus at the Toulouse School of Economics, University of Toulouse and a member of IAST. After publishing mainly on the macroeconomics of Africa, he has focused since the mid-1990s on explaining violent conflict and its prevention, with application to foreign aid, civil war, and transnational terrorism.

Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. Diane co-directs the Bennett Institute where she heads research under the themes of progress and productivity. Her latest book is ‘Cogs and Monsters: What Economics Is, and What It Should Be‘ on how economics needs to change to keep pace with the twenty-first century and the digital economy. Diane is also a Director of the Productivity Institute, a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics, an expert adviser to the National Infrastructure Commission, and Senior Independent Member of the ESRC Council. She was awarded a DBE in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2023 for her invaluable contributions to economic policy and practice, as well as her unwavering commitment to public service. @DianeCoyle1859

Andy Westwood is Professor of Government Practice at the University of Manchester and a Director of the ESRC funded Productivity Institute. He has worked as an expert adviser to the EU, the OECD and the IMF, as well as a specialist adviser to the Select Committees on Economic Affairs and Digital Skills in the House of Lords. Andy was previously a special adviser in the last Labour Government on Further and Higher Education, Science and Local Government. @AndyWWestwood

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

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