UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Re-thinking the Welfare State in the 21st Century

28 February 2024, 12:00 pm–1:30 pm

Hilary Cottam Welfare State - radical help

A lecture on why we must re-design our social systems for modern challenges by Hilary Cottam, author, social activist and IIPP Honorary Professor

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL students




IIPP Comms


UCL IIPP Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
11 Montague Street
United Kingdom

This lecture is open to IIPP students only.

Author, social activist and IIPP Honorary Professor Hilary Cottam, will be giving a lecture at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose on Wednesday 28th February at 12:00 GMT. The lecture will focus on why we must re-design our social systems for modern challenges, and how we can go about it.

Hilary will delve into and illustrate some key points of her ground-breaking book Radical Help: How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state, focusing on how the British welfare state model was emulated globally, framing practice and ideas about social change across the world.  She will present the work developed in the 'Welfare 5.0: Why we need a social revolution and how to make it happen' to explain why this once brilliant innovation can no longer help us face the challenges of today

Our 20th century system is beyond reform and Hilary suggests a new model for this century: ways of supporting the young and the old, those who are unwell and those who seek good work. What does a good working life look like in this century and what new forms of organisation are required to make it possible?  

Click here to read a series of blogposts illustrating Hilary's current future of work project and view here the report 'Welfare 5.0: Why we need a social revolution and how to make it happen'.

About the Speaker

Hilary Cottam

Author, social activist and UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) Honorary Professor

Hilary Cottam profile picture
Hilary's career started with an international focus: she worked in Northern Ethiopia, with Care International in Latin America and as an urban poverty specialist at the World Bank, based in Washington D.C., working in Southern Africa.

Today Hilary is focussed on reforming the British welfare state. Her work starts where the great 20th century welfare designer Sir William Beveridge left off. Hilary challenges us to stop trying to reform out of date institutions and instead look at how modern solutions might start with people and communities, fostering their capabilities. Innovative, practical work includes: a prison re-design; services for older people; new thinking on modern work; a family led programme where those with multiple needs design their own way forward.

The new services and enterprises created by Hilary with communities across Britain have had an impact on the lives of many thousands. Ultimately it’s all about relationships: Hilary’s work shows how we need to turn an industrial, transactional mind set on its head and build our connections with one another into every aspect of social change.

Hilary was educated at Oxford, Sussex and the Open Universities. She was awarded her PhD in 1999.

In 2005 Hilary was voted UK Designer of the Year for her groundbreaking work and in 2007 the World Economic Forum nominated Hilary as a Young Global Leader. Her work has been widely featured from Rolling Stone to Fast Company and in the UK national and international press.

Hilary’s TED talk can be found here. Her book Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us & Revolutionise the Welfare State was published by LittleBrown in June 2018.

In 2019 Hilary was honoured with an OBE for services to the Welfare State.

More about Hilary Cottam