The pandemic has caused us to stop and think about what is important. A crisis often heralds change, and it is vital that everyone gets the opportunity to influence how society develops. Under the current system real influence lies with the richest 1% of the population, who may not share our concerns or values.
At present, national success is measured using Gross Domestic Product, which is the sum of all the money spent by consumers, businesses and government each quarter. If this amount is increasing, the country is said to be doing well because those with the means to invest feel confident to do so. But does GDP really measure what matters to most of us?
Various aspects of the economy, which directly affect so many, are not accounted for using GDP. The unpaid work done by those caring for the vulnerable or elderly is not measured. We don’t learn how income is portioned across the population; the richest in our society getting richer does not automatically improve the standard of living for the rest of us. The sustainability of economic growth is not measured, nor if it is damaging to nature and the environment.
There is a growing desire here, and globally, to change the way that we measure success, so that it relates to the things we really care about. The Reset report, co-chaired by Caroline Lucas (Green Party) and Clive Lewis (Labour), was produced by an All Party Parliamentary Group in 2020. Opinion polls were drawn from a broad section of society: over 57,000 individuals, 17 expert witnesses and 40 differing organisations.
Two-thirds of respondents wanted the health and wellbeing of our nation to be the marker of success. People from all walks of life called for an economy designed to meet people’s needs and protect the ecosystem on which we all depend, rather than focusing on the wealthy accruing more wealth. Fairness, compassion and communities based on collaboration and collective interest were identified as common goals. The report proposes many practical and sustainable ways to reset the economy and our working lives.
The people of West Cumbria care deeply about their communities and loved ones, and should have a say in how our future is shaped. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a cross party group, are gathering signatures to get these issues debated in parliament, to develop a fairer system for us all. If you would like to find out more or add your name to their petition please go to:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/580646 or search ‘Shift to well-being economy.’