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Two recent reports, while focusing on different geographic areas and on seemingly different topics, call for similar policy outcomes: the prioritisation and delivery of the 5 WEAll needs: dignity, access to nature, connection, fairness and meaningful participation for all people.. 

Summary of two recent reports: 

Job Treadmill – European Environmental Bureau and the European Youth Forum , focused on a policy blueprint for creating employment in a post-pandemic EU and a vision for revolutionising the future of work.

Billionaire Wealth and Community Wealth – Institute for Policy Studies, focused on 12 US Corporations – the Delinquent Dozen– who need to do significantly  more to protect their workers as their owners and executives continue to reap billions. 

“Our economic system can best be depicted as an ‘endless treadmill’: the growth-driven market system works, as long as we become more productive,” says the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in their new report, out last week.  

In order to combat this system that has adverse effects on livelihoods, inequality, working conditions, job security, the environment, leisure time, and meaningful work, the EEB suggests that we:

  1. Start questioning the current fundamentals and debating more sustainable alternatives;
  2. Reframe our core policy goals to enhance our collective wellbeing;
  3. Move beyond economic growth when measuring the success of our economies, instead using holistic socio-ecological indicators and;
  4. Embrace policies for transition that enable us to escape the ‘endless treadmill’, such as Universal Basic Income, Working Time reduction, Democracy at work (shifting decision-making power from corporate managers and corporate shareholders to larger group so shareholders, mainly workers) and the Job Guarantee.  

The Institute for Policy Studies’ recently published report, ‘Billionaire Wealth and Community Health’, dives into the topic of top US corporations that have seen their wealth surge as a part of their monopoly status in the US economy. These drastic gains are juxtaposed against the losses of hundreds of thousands of essential workers, who continue to risk their lives in order to make ends meet. The IPS calls for the embrace of transition policies to reduce the growing inequalities by deliberative actions for companies and policymakers.

The IPS suggests that:

  1. Companies employing essential workers must: immediately implement hazard pay of at least $5 per hour and continue providing it for the duration of the pandemic; provide substantial sick leave and bereavement leave benefits for workers; provide personal protective equipment at no cost to all their essential workers; and create workplace health councils. 
  2. Lawmakers should legislate protections for essential workers – meaning: establish a Presidential Commission on Essential Workers; support and facilitate the creation of workplace health councils so that workers can monitor and support enforcement of compliance with health and safety guidance; and create an Essential Workers Bill of Rights.
  3. Support Policies to discourage Billionaire Pandemic Profiteering – meaning: levy an Emergency Pandemic Wealth Tax on Billionaire Gains during 2020 and anExact and Excess Profit Tax; impose conditions on corporations receiving federal pandemic financial support to protect essential workers; establish a Pandemic Profiteering Oversight Committee; and pass a Stop Wall Street Looting Act (SWSLA).

Both of these reports share common threads:  strong ask for policy makers to protect worker’s rights, to shift to more environmentally and socially sustainable practices, move goals beyond economic growth at all costs to reduce inequality and seek balance, and above all: prioritise the wellbeing of people, ahead of profit.

It’s heartening to see the similarities in these  recent reports. While the language we use or the agle we approach economic systems  change may differ, ultimately, we  are all on the same team and working towards the same outcome. 

This is an example of cohesion that is needed to drive the Wellbeing Economy movement. 

We look forward to continuing to work with the WEAll Community to advocate for these necessary changes.  

In August 2020, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and North Ayrshire Council became the first two local authorities to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance as members. Both councils have shown leadership with their leading “build back better” campaigns, which seek to revitalize their local economies through a green, sustainable recovery.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

(Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region)

The announcement of Liverpool City Region’s membership follows the release of its economic recovery plan, Building Back Better. The plan provides a blueprint for how the City Region will recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic by building an economy that is globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive.

The plan has four key themes—the business ecosystem, people-focused recovery, place, and a green recovery—and includes proposals for a £1.4bn investment from Government that would unlock £8.8bn worth of projects and create more than 120,000 jobs. This includes the Mersey Tidal Power project, which can contribute to the UK’s long-term sustainable energy mix, while creating employment for thousands.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “When I said that there was no going back to normal after the crisis, I meant it. That means building a society that focuses on the five Es: employment, the environment, the eco system, the economy and essential workers.

“I want the Liverpool City Region to be the most inclusive, fair and socially just economy in the country. Our economic recovery plan lays out how we’ll do that and I’m proud that we are is the first governmental body in the world to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). I look forward to working with them, sharing ideas from all over the world and making Liverpool City Region a model of how we can make the economy work for people, and not the other way round.”

North Ayrshire Council

(The North Ayrshire Council Building at Cunninghame House in Irvine)

When North Ayrshire Council became the first Scottish local authority to join WEAll, the council had already introduced its pioneering green recovery plan, based on community wealth building (CWB). CWB involves spending public money locally, keeping wealth generated within the local area, encouraging community ownership and using land and property in a socially just way to boost the local economy and tackle poverty and inequality.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council and Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with WEAll and look forward to speaking to a range of influential thinkers who can help inspire us as we look to radically overhaul what we are doing here in North Ayrshire.

“We are in the midst of a global recession and now is the time to be bold, think differently and build a new economy. That new economy must work for the benefit of people and planet, ending decades of an extractive economic model that has worked for neither and has saw inequality soar to record levels.

“That’s what we want to achieve through our Community Wealth Building strategy which, post-COVID, will help us build back better, fairer and greener…

“WEAll are leading the case for an economy that values the wellbeing of people and planet and I am excited by the opportunity to work with them to realise our joint ambitions for a fairer future.”

Some Thoughts from the WEAll Team

Katherine Trebeck, Advocacy and Influencing Lead at WEAll, said of Liverpool’s joining: “The role of government in transforming how our economies operate cannot be underestimated. So governments at all levels are natural partners for the wellbeing economy movement. WEAll is thrilled to welcome the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as a member of our diverse network. WEAll is excited to learn from them, connect them with our members, and amplify their pioneering work, which demonstrates that a wellbeing economy is not just what is needed, but with political will, it is entirely possible.”

Sarah Deas, trustee at WEAll Scotland and chair of North Ayrshire’s expert advisory group on Community Wealth Building, said: “North Ayrshire Council was the first Scottish local authority to commit to Community Wealth Building and is now the first to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll). The Council appreciates that direct local action can achieve systems change, enabling the economy to deliver human and ecological wellbeing.

“Through participating in the WEAll network, the Councils will inspire others to adopt similar pioneering approaches while benefiting from ideas and innovations from across the world.”