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Publication of report: Wellbeing in four policy areas

September 11, 2014

The APPG is pleased to announce the publication of its first report, ‘Wellbeing in four policy areas’, which is now available to download here. A launch event will take place on Tuesday 14th October from 11.30-13.00 in the Houses of Parliament: places are free but limited. Register here.

The report is the result of a year-long inquiry exploring how wellbeing evidence can be translated into policy in four diverse areas: labour markets, planning and transport, mindfulness in health and education, and arts and culture.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Focus on stable jobs over growth: More than half the UK workforce are worried about losing their jobs, with disastrous consequences for their wellbeing and productivity – sickness leave alone costs an estimated £100bn a year. Secure, stable employment should be the primary focus of economic policy.
  • More green spaces in our cities: Planning processes have lost sight of their original mission to improve community wellbeing. Restoring this would transform local areas, with considerable economic benefits – city liveability is a major consideration for big employers, while encouraging residents to take up walking or cycling could save the NHS £675m a year.
  • Mindfulness training for doctors and teachers: Mental health problems cost the UK economy an estimated £70bn annually. Training new medical and teaching staff in mindfulness techniques would embed a culture of wellbeing in health and education, and reduce a later burden on the NHS by improving the availability of mindfulness-based therapies.
  • Invest in arts and culture: Wellbeing evidence gives a robust means of measuring the value of non-market goods. Arts and culture play an important part in all our lives, and wellbeing data will help make the case for spending in these areas.

The group’s chair, David Lammy MP, said:

“It has been eight years since David Cameron first declared his intention to measure wellbeing, and in that time the financial crisis has shifted many people’s priorities. But in fact wellbeing matters more, not less, in times of economic difficulties.”

“Fundamentally this is about creating the conditions for people to live better lives, which should be the primary objective of all policy. We cannot be distracted by figures of GDP growth without assessing what this really means for people’s lives. This report outlines in practical terms what action the Government can take to increase wellbeing and shift focus onto the need to improve the quality of life in this country.”

“It’s too easy to focus simply on headline figures of unemployment and GDP. Wellbeing economics goes deeper than that and means measuring what really matters to people – whether their jobs are secure, whether they pay well, and whether they offer opportunities for progression. Our inquiry shows how all parties can put in place the building blocks of a high wellbeing recovery.”

Vice-Chair Baroness Claire Tyler said:

“This timely report shows how four years’ worth of UK wellbeing evidence can be used to target limited public spending more effectively to improve people’s lives, as well as deliver significant long-term savings to the public purse.”

 “We heard compelling evidence that promoting fair pay and reducing inequality are vital building blocks of a high wellbeing society. As well as tackling low pay, this means much greater transparency on pay at the top, and on pay differentials within firms.

“Good policy is based on solid evidence. We should be making full use of our comprehensive wellbeing data.”

For press inquiries please contact ross.haig@neweconomics.org.

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