The New Economics Foundation’s Well-being Manifesto for a Flourishing Society calls on politicians to focus policy on human well-being before economic growth. It challenges the assumption that the economy is the government’s most important function and it calls on ministers to help UK citizens to be happier and more fulfilled ó not richer and more depressed. The Manifesto builds on an earlier report by The New Economics Foundation, which showed that quality of life in the UK had not regained its 1976 peak.
“What matters to people is their quality of life and that of their children. Government needs to learn that richer has not meant happier but busier, more stressed with weaker communities,” says the Foundation’s Director of New Economic Policy, Hetan Shah. The Well-being Manifesto suggests eight areas where the government could act to promote it. These include a well-being economy, which measures what matters: detailed, national, well-being accounts and local well-being audits, carried out by local government, which would allow a better understanding of how well-being is attained.
“The well-being of future generations depends on not destroying our environment: that means taxing environmental bads’ and reducing the tax burden on things we want to encourage. “We want to begin to re-define wealth’ and progress’: to judge our systems and economies on how much they create the world we actually want, rather than how much money they generate,” says Hetan Shah. “The Foundation’s main aim is to create a new economy that serves people and the planet. “Growing the economy only has a small effect on well-being and may be achieved at the expense of other factors: work-life balance, the environment and the vibrancy of local communities.”
Co-author of The Manifesto, Nic Marks, says: “The economic miracle’ of prolonged growth has only been economic. In every other respect it has singularly failed to produce a flourishing society of happy and fulfilled citizens.” He suggests that supporters arrange local get-togethers’ to write well-being manifestos for local towns and neighbourhoods and ask their MPs how much of the Well-being Manifesto will be incorporated into their party platform at the general election.