Prioritising Wellness

By local MSP Kenneth Gibson

In a speech to the Technology, Entertainment. Design (TED) Summit in Edinburgh on 24 July, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP advocated for a focus on policies that promote wellbeing and not just economic growth, to help address the rise of alienation and disaffection from politics.

In a world of growing division and inequality, it is more important than ever for governments to focus on broader measurements of health and wellbeing, rather than just material wealth. As such, the First Minister said that we can no longer use Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the only measurement of a country’s success.

The values we have in our communities and country say a lot about the society we really want to be. Engaging with people and finding out what matters to them and the principles that they hold can help to address the alienation and apathy from politics that has become prevalent in so many countries in recent years. As the First Minister stated:

“When we focus on wellbeing, we start a conversation that provokes profound and fundamental questions; what really matters to us in our lives?”

The First Minister discussed the establishment of the Wellbeing Economy Governments Group, created in 2018 by the SNP Government with Iceland and New Zealand. This group challenge the acceptance of GDP as the ultimate measure of a country’s success.

In her visionary talk, the First Minister explained the far-reaching implications of a “wellbeing economy,” one which places factors like childcare, equal pay and mental health and at its core.

The SNP Government continues to take ambitious steps forward in these areas, such as with the most significant expansion of childcare and early years’ education ever seen in Scotland – almost doubling free provision from 600 to 1,140 a year from August 2020.

Earlier this year, the SNP Government published the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, the first for Scotland and for any UK administration, which will help the SNP Government meet its commitment of eliminating the gender pay gap by 2021. As part of this plan, £5 million is being invested over the next three years to support around 2,000 women to return to work after career breaks. It will also help to improve workplace practices, including support for women during the menopause and victims of domestic abuse, through the expansion of the Workplace Equality Fund.

Growth cannot simply be an end in itself, but rather must be the means by which we enable people to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. As such, the SNP Government will continue to work for a fairer and happier Scotland.

The First Minister was invited to speak at Ted Global, held at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre and her Ted Talk is now available online.