The nation’s wellbeing is to be measured for the Government from next April so that ministers can help the British people attain “the good life,” David Cameron is set to announce.
The Prime Minister will insist that prosperity alone cannot deliver happiness and that the coalition must promote quality of life as well as economic growth.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been asked to devise measures of progress and will lead a public debate about what matters most to people.
“From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country, not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving. Not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life,” Mr Cameron is expected to say.
He will deny that the move means sidelining economic growth as the country tries to recover from the recession but insist that ministers need to take a broader perspective.
“We’ll continue to measure GDP as we’ve always done,” Mr Cameron will say. “But it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country’s progress.”
He will quote the former US senator Robert Kennedy, who described how GDP “measures everything… except that which makes life worthwhile”.
The information gathered would give a “general picture of how life is improving” and help the country re-evaluate its priorities in life. Mr Cameron will say his goal in politics is to “make a better life for people” and insist that the Government can help improve wellbeing.
Citing international scholarship by economists and social scientists, he will add: “The contention is that just as we can create the climate for business to thrive – by cutting taxes, slashing red tape and so on – so we can create a climate in this country that is more family-friendly and more conducive to the good life.
“That’s why I reject the criticism that government policy has no role in this area. To those who say that all this sounds like a distraction from the serious business of government, I say finding out what will really improve lives and acting on it is the serious business of government.”