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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Calls for Scotland’s urgent transition to a wellbeing economy

 

Charities, economists, businesses and unions urge FM to make the wellbeing economy a reality.

Over 100 charities, economists, businesses, trade unions and academics have sent an open letter to Scotland’s First Minister calling for an “urgent transition to a wellbeing economy.”

Signatories commended measures such as the first wellbeing economy monitor, efforts to encourage fair work and the commitment to review how to increase the number of purposeful and democratic businesses in Scotland. 

The authors – who include Carnegie UK, IPPR Scotland, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Church of Scotland - stress this is not adding up to “substantive progress”.  

They are calling for a “robust plan to put the wellbeing of people and nature at the heart of our economy.”

Sarah Davidson, Carnegie UK chief executive, said: “Scotland has been at the forefront of the global debate about developing an economy that works for everyone. But there’s an opportunity to turn that rhetoric into reality in Glasgow next week.

“That means Ministers in Edinburgh changing how they measure success, ensuring that social, environmental, and democratic priorities are considered alongside economic goals. It means adopting policies that boost collective wellbeing. It means fast-tracking a new Future Generations Commissioner to speak up for the people that will come after us.”

On Tuesday the First Minister will join fellow senior representatives of the wellbeing economy Governments partnership at the Wealth of Nations 2.0 Conference. Scotland is a founding member of the group, which includes New Zealand, Finland, Canada, Iceland and Wales. 

The letter, sent ahead of the conference, urges Nicola Sturgeon to transform Scotland’s National Performance Framework into a Wellbeing Framework and strengthen its power and reach; use devolved tax powers to share wealth more evenly, invest in social security, universal basic services, public sector wages and environmental improvements; and to reshape the business support landscape to prioritise the kind of enterprises that enhance our collective wellbeing. 

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The need has never been greater for the Scottish Government to step up to the plate and fundamentally redesign our economy for the benefit of working people.  We cannot ever hope to have a ‘wellbeing economy’ whilst wealth is created and hoarded by those at the top.

“People throughout Scotland are suffering through a cost-of-living crisis not of their making and not of their choosing. It’s time, now more than ever, that Scottish Government action matched Scottish Government rhetoric, urgently prioritising wellbeing and welfare over wealth.”

The Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation contains the aspiration to become a “wellbeing economy” but signatories to the letter say that a narrow focus on GDP growth grounds the strategy in “the same logic that has delivered decades of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation.” 

In a supporting statement, the faith leaders, businesses and civil society leaders define a wellbeing economy as one that “delivers good lives for all people and protects the health of our planet.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s sustainable economy advisor, Matthew Crighton, said: “A wellbeing economy that looks after people and planet is urgently needed because our current economic system is speeding us in the wrong direction, with climate science warning that we have a small and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future. 

“We need a redesign of the economy which will orient all public spending towards these vital shared goals and also requires private companies to play their part too. 

“The Scottish Government has many of the necessary powers to improve lives now and we are calling on it to translate its support for the idea of a wellbeing economy into tangible action.”

Professor of wellbeing economy at the University of Glasgow, Gerry McCartney, added: “Redesigning the economy to serve the needs of people and planet, and to value what actually matters is an urgent task. Poverty is rising, life expectancy is stalling and the climate and nature crisis are posing an existential threat. 

“We need a deep deliberative conversation across Scotland about the society we want and the economy that can support this. There is no alternative if we want a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren to live on.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our vision is to transition to a wellbeing economy that serves people and the planet first and foremost, for current and future generations.

“This is why our Wellbeing Economy Monitor complements traditional metric of economic success, such as GDP, to include health, equality, child poverty, levels of greenhouse gas emissions and fair work indicators.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything within existing powers to tackle poverty. The Scottish Child Payment doubled to £20 in April  and increased again to £25 per eligible child per week from November 14, representing an increase of 150% in less than eight months. It is only available in Scotland.

“Working with public, private and third sectors and communities across the country, we are taking bold actions within the powers and budget available to us, to transform our economy and build a fairer, greener and more resilient country.

“We will continue to urge the UK Government to use all the powers at its disposal to tackle the cost of living crisis on the scale required, including access to borrowing, providing benefits and support to households, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits and regulation of the energy market.”

 

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