Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry on Well-being

26 April 2013

In our recent report on Sustainable Development Indicators (PDF 1.02 MB), we said that we would undertake a further inquiry on the ‘Measuring Well-being’ initiative. The ONS published in November an analysis of its well-being survey data.

The ONS analysis compared people’s well-being according to gender, age, ethnic group, relationship status, health, disability, employment status and occupation, as well as by nation, region and local authority. This potentially opens up a raft of new data for social science and policy making that reflects well-being and sustainable development.

Well-being comprises four ‘capitals’—natural capital, produced capital, human capital and social capital. The Treasury concerns itself with produced capital (GDP). The new Natural Capital Committee is due to make its first report to Government in March 2013. Human and social capital have tended to get less attention.

The EAC inquiry will examine:

  • The Government’s plans to utilise the results of the available well-being research and analysis in policy making.
  • What the Government is doing to get the right analytical skills and training (including social science skills), to reflect well-being thinking and to address all aspects of sustainable development; and how in practical terms to make such an approach operational in departments’ policy-making processes.
  • What particular areas of policy making the Government should now open up to the results of the well-being analysis and research, and on which areas of policy-making it should exercise caution.
  • How the ONS work might be further expanded or adjusted to reflect well-being research and metrics being developed elsewhere.
  • What lessons for considering social and human capital in national statistics reporting and policy making could be drawn from the separate work already under way on natural capital, including the operation of the Natural Capital Committee.

The inquiry will begin by taking evidence from Dieter Helm, the Chair of the Natural Capital Committee, on Thursday 9 May. The Committee is taking written evidence for this inquiry until 14 June.

Guidance on how to submit evidence is available on the Committee’s website.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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