Ex-civil service chief says spending review opportunity to focus on health and happiness
Fri 24 May 2019
Personal wellbeing rather than economic growth should be the primary aim of government spending, according to a report by the former head of the civil service and politicians.
Launching a report urging a sea change in thinking from ministers, Gus O’Donnell, who served as cabinet secretary to three prime ministers, said Britain could lead the world by making wellbeing the goal of government policy.
The call to unseat growth as the main measure of government success comes as the Treasury gears up for a three-year spending review, due this summer, which has been scheduled despite the Brexit turmoil gripping the Tories.
Speaking to the Guardian, O’Donnell said: “This is a particularly important moment in time, where one hopes that this spending review will be taking place – possibly with a different prime minister and with the Brexit issue resolved one way or another.
“We have an opportunity to focus on all the things that we haven’t been focusing on over the past three years, to set a new direction and a new vision.”
The paper, from the all-party parliamentary group on wellbeing economics, written by O’Donnell and other leading MPs and peers, calls on the government to use the spending review to boost its funding for mental health services, teaching in schools and social care by an extra £10bn within five years to raise the wellbeing of citizens.
It found happiness, fulfilment and the reduction of anxiety, rather than growth or jobs, was the main determinant of whether governments satisfied voters, and called on ministers to implement changes to focus on such metrics.
Although Philip Hammond, the chancellor, had planned for a three-year spending review, such a policy exercise would be contingent on the government managing to hold together and pass a Brexit deal – which appears an increasingly unlikely prospect.
The spending review could however be downgraded to focus on a single year amid the political chaos. It is thought that a decision needs to be made before MPs rise for the summer recess in late July.
Wellbeing should replace growth as ‘main aim of UK spending’ | Politics | The Guardian
Ex-civil service chief says spending review opportunity to focus on health and happiness Fri 24 May 2019 Personal wellbeing rather than economic growth should be the primary aim of government spending, according to a report by the former head of the civil service and politicians. Launching a report urging a sea change in thinking from… [Read More]