Published: October 2019 (5 Min Read)

We are continuously being told that British society is being pulled apart by Brexit differences, so perhaps what we need is a “wellbeing budget”.

This is exactly what Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has set out for her nation.

Ardern said, “We’re embedding that notion of making decisions that aren’t just about growth for growth’s sake, but how are our people faring? How is their overall well-being and their mental health? How is our environment doing? These are the measures that will give us a true measure of our success.”

The NZ initiative has five priorities for 2019: aiding the transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy; supporting a thriving nation in the digital age; lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities; reducing child poverty; and supporting mental health for all New Zealanders.

Rather similar to many of the UK’s needs, but somewhat different to a focus on raising or reducing income taxes.

Ardern hopes a focus on longer-term, more altruistic, goals will help fight some of the deep-rooted and divisive political forces at play around the world. Unprecedented wage stagnation is widespread, and both hollows out living standards for many and aids the rise of populism.

“This is not woolly, it’s critical,” Ardern told delegates at the World Economic Forum this year. “This is how we bring meaning and results for the people who vote for us. It’s not ideological either. It’s about finally saying this how we meet expectations and try and build trust back into our institutions again, no matter where we are in the world.”

Bhutan and Abu Dhabi have a similar focus upon wellbeing, while the UK also has an All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics.