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Professor Matthew Johnson


Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

I am Professor of Public Policy at Northumbria University, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and founding Editor of Global Discourse. My work is centrally concerned with addressing issues of inequality, social justice and exclusion both in my native North East and beyond. I have led a number of engagement-rich, high-impact, interdisciplinary and international projects. I have secured over £2.3mm to fund this work, focusing most recently on examination of the public health case for Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a means of mitigating health and economic inequalities.

Recent work has been covered on BBC2 Politics LiveSkyITV Tyne Tees News, and in the GuardianBBC, Independent, Daily MirrorEvening Standard among others. The coverage has fostered debate on the broader issues and policy, with the Independent committing its supportto Universal Basic Income.

I have a commitment to participatory research and have led a number of co-produced and co-directed projects, including an international, interdisciplinary, participatory study entitled ‘A Cross-cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness’, which involved a research network of over 30 academics and embedded exchanges between community members from Ashington, Northumberland and Aboriginal groups around Brisbane. Two films covering the project have been produced by Brightmoon Media. I am a regular contributor to national and international media.

I am Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, have been nominated for a National Teaching Fellowship three times, and have taught at the Universities of Newcastle, Queensland, Iceland and York. I was the founder and co-ordinator of the Association for Academic Outreach (AfAO), which facilitates research, development and dissemination of outreach good practice by and for academics.

Matthew Johnson

My research converges around the relationship between material conditions, public policy and health and wellbeing. At present, I am leading a multidisciplinary team examining the health case for Universal Basic Income. This NIHR and Wellcome Trust funded project examines the prospective role of basic income as a public health and economic measure in our time of crisis. I am involved in evaluation of the Welsh basic income pilot for care leavers and in development, with Autonomy and Big Locals, of micropiots in Jarrow and East Finchley.

We have made key contributions to five areas of the debate by: 1) mapping out pathways to health through a model of impact developed from existing evidence that suggests broader, cascading benefits than previously asserted within the literature; 2) identifying deficits in previous evaluations that have prevented accurate measurement of health impact and developing research protocols in response; 3) developing a method of modelling through dynamic microsimulation that suggests the long-term positive economic impact of the policy from savings in health budgets and increased productivity may make a generous UBI affordable; 4) demonstrating that public support for the policy is much higher than politicians believe by deploying behavioural science to examine trends in perceptions and, 5) presenting the first examination of the ethics of deploying UBI to promote health.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Are ‘red wall’ constituencies really opposed to progressive policy? Examining the impact of materialist narratives for Universal Basic Income, Johnson, M., Johnson, E., Nettle, D. 1 Mar 2023, In: British Politics
  • Designing a generic, adaptive protocol resource for the measurement of health impact in cash transfer pilot and feasibility studies and trials in high-income countries, Johnson, E., Johnson, M., Kypridemos, C., Villadsen, A., Pickett, K. 23 Mar 2023, In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies
  • Understanding the relationship between income and mental health among 16- to 24-year-olds: Analysis of 10 waves (2009-2020) of Understanding Society to enable modelling of income interventions, Parra-Mujica, F., Johnson, E., Reed, H., Cookson, R., Johnson, M. 28 Feb 2023, In: PLoS One
  • Can the ‘downward spiral’ of material conditions, mental health and faith in government be stopped? Evidence from surveys in ‘red wall’ constituencies, Johnson, M., Johnson, E., Reed, H., Nettle, D. 1 Feb 2024, In: British Journal of Politics and International Relations
  • Universal Basic Income is affordable and feasible: evidence from UK economic microsimulation modelling, Reed, H., Johnson, M., Lansley, S., Johnson, E., Stark, G., Pickett, K. 1 Feb 2023, In: Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: RSA Report Launch: Levelling the Mental Health Gradient in Young People: How Universal Basic Income can address the crisis in anxiety and depression 2022
  • Invited talk: The Health Dividend: The Potential of Unconditional Basic Income in Addressing Health Inequities 2023
  • Invited talk: Pathways to health for them and for us 2021
  • Invited talk: Universal Basic Income: Pathway to a healthy society? 2021
  • Invited talk: Expert Testimony: Catholicism and anti-domination: the institutional case for UBI 2021

Kathryn Loosemore The relationship between material conditions, public opinion and the violence of ETA, the Basque terrorist group (1959-2018) Start Date: 01/10/2022


My work has been covered by the The New Statesman,  The Independent, Financial Times, The Independent, Al Jazeera, the BBC and various other newspapers and outlets.

I have contributed to LabourList, Foreign Affairs and various other platforms.

I have been interviewed on, among other things, Universal Basic Income, British politics, regional politics in the North East and North West, Aboriginal politics, cultural diversity. I previously provided BBC Radio General Election night analysis. I am more than happy to be interviewed on the broad topics outlined under ‘research interests’ above.

  • Academic Studies in Education PGCert May 01 2015
  • Politics PhD March 12 2010
  • Psychology PGDip October 01 2008
  • Politics MA October 01 2005
  • Politics BA (Hons) July 01 2004
  • Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR164421) PFHEA 2019
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR143181) SFHEA 2018
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR080095) FHEA 2015

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