28.06.2023 | 4 min read
UK MPs accept challenge to “put wellbeing first”Members of the UK Parliament have voiced their support for the wellbeing agenda.
A cross-party group of MPs have thrown their support behind a manifesto seeking to place the wellbeing of people at the heart of the UK’s policy agenda.
Members of the Labour Party, Conservatives, Greens and Plaid Cymru have signed the Como Wellbeing Manifesto, first launched by long-time economist Professor Lord Richard Layard at the World Happiness Summit earlier in 2023.
It calls on policymakers, businesses, schools, and individuals to reappraise the ultimate goal for society ‘beyond GDP’ to a measure of people’s wellbeing: their enjoyment of life, their sense of satisfaction and of fulfilment.
Sir Peter Bottomley MP (left) examines ONS wellbeing data alongside Lord Richard Layard.
The challenges set out by the manifesto are informed by Lord Layard’s long-standing research career in the established field of wellbeing science, and are supported by not-for-profit social impact organisation the World Wellbeing Movement, whose mission is to put wellbeing at the heart of decision-making in both business and public policy.
Other signatories of the manifesto so far include Karen Guggenheim, founder and CEO of WOHASU, organisers of the World Happiness Summit; Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman; and multiple senior executives from member organisations of the World Wellbeing Movement.
Lord Layard, co-founder of the World Wellbeing Movement and also an editor of the World Happiness Report, said: “There is no measure more important than how we feel about our lives. Plenty more can and should be taken into account – our health, our work, the economy – but they all matter because of how they make us feel.
“This idea can be traced back to the philosophers of the Enlightenment, such as Jeremy Bentham, who stated that happiness should be the ultimate meaning and purpose in life.
“We hope that by issuing this challenge to the Government, businesses and schools, that we can build a happier world. Let’s put wellbeing first: there could be no more inspiring purpose for our lives.”
The UK’s Office for National Statistics has published data on measures of wellbeing since 2011, while countries such as New Zealand and Iceland lead the way on the global stage by embedding some wellbeing measures into policy creation and implementation.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged in 2021 to set a national goal for wellbeing ‘to make health as important as GDP’ if elected to Government. He said: “With every pound spent on your behalf we would expect the Treasury to weigh not just its effect on national income but also, its effect on wellbeing.”
HM Treasury published Green Book guidance under Conservative leadership in 2021 to help policymakers and analysts understand how wellbeing science can be robustly integrated into Government policies.
Lord Richard Layard (left) with Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge MP.
The full list of UK Members of Parliament to supported the Como Wellbeing Manifesto to date includes:
- Debbie Abrahams MP (Labour), Oldham East and Saddleworth
- Mike Amesbury MP (Labour), Weaver Vale
- Tonia Antoniazzi MP (Welsh Labour), Gower
- Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative), Worthing West
- Kevin Brennan MP (Welsh Labour), Cardiff West
- Clive Brooke, Baron Brooke of Alverthorpe (Labour)
- Tracey Crouch MP (Conservative), Chatham and Aylesford
- Jon Cruddas MP (Labour), Dagenham and Rainham
- Thangam Debbonaire MP (Labour), Bristol West
- Stephen Doughty MP (Welsh Labour), Cardiff South and Penarth
- Julie Elliott MP (Labour), Sunderland Central
- Yvonne Fovargue MP (Labour), Makerfield
- Gill Furniss MP (Labour), Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough
- Fabian Hamilton MP (Labour), Leeds North East
- Carolyn Harris MP (Welsh Labour), Swansea East
- Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge MP (Labour), Barking
- Dan Jarvis MP (Labour), Barnsley Central
- Gerald Jones MP (Welsh Labour), Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney
- Kevan Jones MP (Labour), North Durham
- Ian Lavery MP (Labour), Wansbeck
- Kim Leadbeater MP (Labour), Batley and Spen
- Tim Loughton MP (Conservative), East Worthing and Shoreham
- Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Brighton Pavilion
- Justin Madders MP (Labour), Ellesmere Port and Neston
- Seema Malhotra MP (Labour Co-operative), Feltham and Heston
- Andy McDonald MP (Labour), Middlesbrough
- Chi Onwurah MP (Labour), Newcastle upon Tyne Central
- Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru), Dwyfor Meirionnydd
- Virendra Sharma MP (Labour), Ealing Southall
- Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (Labour), Slough
- Andy Slaughter MP (Labour), Hammersmith
- Nick Smith MP (Welsh Labour), Laenau Gwent
- Karin Smyth MP (Labour), Bristol South
- Mark Tami MP (Labour), Alyn and Deeside
- Valerie Vaz MP (Labour), Walsall South
- Daniel Zeichner MP (Labour) Cambridge
Individuals are also encouraged to sign the Como Wellbeing Manifesto. Add your name at worldhappinesssummit.com/como-wellbeing-manifesto.
Listen to an in-depth discussion on the topic of the Como Wellbeing Manifesto between Prof Lord Layard and World Wellbeing Movement Managing Director, Sarah Cunningham, on the Working on Wellbeing podcast. Available on YouTube and all major podcast providers including Apple and Spotify.
Header image: Lord Richard Layard (left) with Caroline Lucas MP. All images credit Redpix Photography.