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200 charities, economists, businesses, and unions call on FM to turn Wellbeing Economy into reality

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Dear First Minister, it's time to reprogramme our economy so it works for people and planet

We joined with over 200 charities, economists, businesses, trade unions, and academics to send an open letter to Scotland’s First Minister calling for a “robust plan” to turn Wellbeing Economy rhetoric into action.

Earlier this year, we set out our collective vision of a Wellbeing Economy, which lays out a longer term strategy and recommendations for the Scottish Government. Now, we have come together to lay out the immediate steps that can be taken.

In the letter, we commended Scottish Government measures such as the recent creation of the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy role and steps such as the publication of a Wellbeing Economy monitor. But the authors – who include STUC, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Carnegie UK, IPPR Scotland, Children 1st, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, and dozens of NGOs, CIC's and other businesses - stress this is not adding up to “substantive progress in redesigning our economy”.

The campaigners argue “We have run out of time for talk, what we need now is action.”

Scotland is one of the founding members of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership. And Humza Yousaf has cited the delivery of a Wellbeing Economy, tackling child poverty, and sustainable public services as the key priorities of his government. But the campaigners, from food banks to economists note that this will take more than “following an outdated economic logic and then attempting to patch up the damage”. The letter urges Humza Yousaf 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.

These demands come as the Scottish Government recently published the membership of its New Deal for Business Group which includes BP on its subgroup on Wellbeing Economy. But civil society leaders and academics define a Wellbeing Economy as one that “delivers good lives for all people and protects the health of our planet.”

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer:

“A ‘wellbeing economy’ must be far more than a soundbite from the Scottish Government. It’s a clear and unequivocal demand from our movement to be treated with dignity and we cannot ever hope to have a ‘wellbeing economy’ whilst wealth is created and hoarded by those at the top.

“When the chips are down, Government must deliver. Workers are suffering a cost-of-living crisis not of their making and absolutely not of their choosing. We expect politicians to make good on their promises and fundamentally build an economy that focuses on well-being and workers rather than profit and private interests."

A Wellbeing Economy must be far more than a soundbite from the Scottish Government. It's a clear and unequivocal demand from our movement to be treated with dignity. We cannot ever hope to have a Wellbeing Economy whilst wealth is hoarded by those at the top. Roz Foyer, General Secretary STUC

Professor of Wellbeing Economy at the University of Glasgow, Gerry McCartney said:

“Redesigning the economy to serve the needs of people and the 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.”

Gracie Bradley, director at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Moving Scotland towards an economy that prioritises people and the planet is essential and urgent. This summer, we’ve seen the impacts of the climate breakdown on our doorsteps in Scotland, global temperature records are being repeatedly broken, and people are suffering through the cost-of-living crisis. “The Scottish Government needs to turn its support of a wellbeing economy into action that will improve people’s lives now and in the future. By redesigning the economy, it could create a more equal country with thriving public services that support everyone in our society at the same time as reducing our impact on the planet.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “People in Scotland want an economy based on justice and compassion, where no one is trapped in poverty.

“The Scottish Government can use powers over procurement and business support to shape an economy where work provides security, dignity, and wages that meet people’s needs.

“It can do even more to renew and rebuild our social security and strengthen the public services that we all rely on - like education, roads, public transport, childcare, social care, and the NHS.

“It can do all that, because it has powers to strengthen social investment through progressive taxation, creating a stable foundation for people to build better lives for themselves and their children. It can make Scotland a place with collective wellbeing at its heart.”

Download the letter to the First Minister along with list of signatories below.

Joint letter to FM on Wellbeing Economy August update
Download PDF • 127KB

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