Measurement of national well-being and impact of budgets on equality at the heart of new Labour legislation- Howlin

Issued 6 July 2017

Labour leader Brendan Howlin TD, has today published legislation that aims to give a better insight into our national well-being by measuring environmental and social factors alongside the annual measurement of GDP.

The Genuine Progress Indicators and National Distributional Accounts Bill 2017 would also require an annual report on the impact of the Budget on economic and social inequality, poverty reduction and income and wealth redistribution.

Deputy Howlin explained:

“Most measurements assess progress by growth in GDP, which can overstate the value of the production and consumption of goods without reflecting any improvement in human well-being. The debate over the validity of GDP as an economic measure has ignored the fact that our national well-being relies on much more than merely the strength of our economy.

“Even using alternative economic measures such as GNI does not get around this problem. Economic statistics will never allow us to get a true sense of national progress. While Cabinet is meeting this afternoon to discuss our economic progress, we urgently need a broader debate around how our people are progressing.

“The Bill we are publishing today will create a new measurement - Genuine Progress Indicators (GPI) which will be published each year. The GPI will capture economic growth, but will also include an assessment of the health and wellbeing of our people, our levels of educational attainment and skills, the state of our environment, along with other measures such as the voluntary activities carried out by our people.

"The second feature of this Bill is the requirement for distributional accounts to be published each year. Distributional accounts will show how growth has affected each segment of the population, and will give us a detailed insight into how tax and social welfare impacts on income and wealth inequality.

"Finally, the Bill puts the idea of monitoring the equality impact of budgets on a statutory footing. For each budget, and every five years, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) will be required to publish an assessment of the impact of the Budget on social inequality, poverty reduction, and income and wealth distribution.

“What gets measured matters. Poverty matters, inequality matters, and the health and wellbeing of our people matters. It is about time we started measuring the performance of our Governments by their efforts to deal with these areas."