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March 2014 saw the publication of what could become a momentous report, that of The Commission on Wellbeing and Policy chaired by former UK Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell. It makes the case for putting the pursuit of wellbeing at the heart of public policy. Though very challenging – difficulties over definition, data, key drivers of change, and the ‘why bother, what difference would it make?’ question – this new report tackles the prickly issues head on. How can the traditional cost-benefit analysis that policy is traditionally based on effectively incorporate well-being? The report explores how public policies can be designed to enhance social and personal wellbeing, basing appraisals on changes in wellbeing, rather than income. It examines what are understood to be strong determinants of wellbeing and discusses a range of possible public policies, focusing on four areas:
The report concludes:
“We should treat mental ill health as professionally as physical ill health, support parents, and build character and resilience in schools. At the community level, we should promote volunteering and giving, address loneliness, and create a built environment that is sociable and green. As well as promoting economic growth, we should aim to reduce unemployment through active welfare policies and encourage businesses to promote wellbeing at work. We should treat citizens with respect and empower them more.”
Wellbeing ought to be measured more often and comprehensively. It would help improve policies, raise business productivity, and enhance people’s life satisfaction.
Access the report and related resources here: