Using Wellbeing as Success vs GDP - Video from GLD fringe at September 2020 Libdem conference
Using Wellbeing as Success vs GDP - Video from GLD fringe at September 2020 Libdem conference
shortcode to this page: http://grn.lib.dm/a81dvv
Transcription edited by Fiona
Keith Melton (Chair): @ChairGreenLDs
Jane Brophy: www.janebrophy.co.uk @JaneBrophyLD
Jane Dodds: www.janedodds.wales @DoddsJane
Oliver Jones-Lyons: @Class_libdem
People can come into the discussion as we go.
For those of you who don't know who I am, I'm Keith Melton and I'm Chair of the Green Liberal Democrats and I've been involved with politics ever since I stood as a Liberal Democrat, as a Liberal at my mock election at school in 1964. The reason I'm mentioning that longevity is that for nearly all of that time, certainly since the 1970s, Liberal party and Liberal Democrats have complained that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the usual measure of economic success, is not an appropriate measure for measuring quality of life, and the session today is all about talking about how we can better reflect quality of life by looking at well-being in the way that in fact it happens in New Zealand. And if you haven't heard about what they do in New Zealand it's well worth following that that up. I'm hoping that we can explain how well-being is appropriately used there during the course of today's session.
So I'm not going to say anymore, I'm going to introduce Jane Brophy [www.janebrophy.co.uk @JaneBrophyLD ] who really needs no introduction, I think is a former MEP. We've got Oliver Jones-Lyons [@Class_libdem] who is a Green Liberal Democrat Youth Officer from just a few weeks ago. He's been co-opting onto the GLD executive. And we will be joined by Jane Dodds [: www.janedodds.wales @DoddsJane] in due course and so I will be looking out for her arrival, but I'm going to hand over to Jane now who's going to start talking about well-being. Jane.
Hey hello everybody. So here we are the Green Liberal Democrat fringe and we've just taken that important step of voting yesterday on the … and I'm gonna start off by … something really important I've been looking into. So we all remember that Martin Luther King said. He said "I have a dream" and he also said "I can see the promised land". What intrigues me is he didn't say "I have a nightmare" and "I can see doom and destruction". And for me saving our planet and enhancing well-being go absolutely hand in hand. We can't have one without the other. I think many of us have been guilty of creating a fear about our future without having positive vision for where we're going and it won't work because people will just feel fear and denial and despair. So the environmental movement and many greens, in my opinion, they have focused too much on the problems without articulating this positive vision for the future connecting better with people's aspirations and well-being.
Don't get me wrong, when I hear David Attenborough talk about the loss of biodiversity or I listen to the news and I hear about burning rainforests in the Amazon and in Siberia, along with any others I cry because we're crying out for solutions. Well-being is also about letting our emotions out so we can cry about the terrible things happening in the world because then we can feel things and begin to understand what's really important in our lives. The Green Liberal Democrats Summer conference … we debated a long time about what we were going to call the whole conference and the committee decided that it was called Sustainable Recovery That Works for Everybody and this is what the world needs.
It's almost 20 years ago since organisations like the New Economics Foundation https://neweconomics.org @NEF began working on wellbeing and what they discovered was countries in the world that get this right as Keith outlined in the introduction, like New Zealand and Costa Rica, they don't use many resources. They are probably one of the greenest places, but they also count the cost of people's well-being, people's happiness. Costa Rica doesn't have an army. New Zealand has done better than anywhere in the world in tackling the COVID crisis.
So campaigning to measure economic progress with different measures other than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has come about. We've got things like the Happy Planet Index http://happyplanetindex.org/ that the New Economics Foundation promotes. Now this goes to the heart of the reason why I became and remain a Green Liberal Democrats, because I've always believed that conventional economics has got something fundamentally wrong. We have missed out counting well-being and nature as part of how we calculate human wealth and that's why we're depleting our planet's forests and dramatically diminishing our biodiversity and putting out carbon into the atmosphere. We just need to change because we haven't costed and valued these things properly in the first place.
So globally if you ask every human being, every citizen of the world what they actually want in life, universally everybody says happiness, love and health. And wealth is only important to those who already don't have the basic material things to survive and thrive. And for me promoting well-being is all about creating a positive vision for the future and linking this to the current global emergencies that we face with COVID19, climate change emergency and loss of biodiversity.
We need to offer people solutions for this crisis and well-being does exactly that and the new economic theory such as the Doughnut Economics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doughnut_(economic_model) that we talked about a lot at the Green Liberal Democrats. Look it up, Doughnut Economics, the circular economy, and it will tell you how you can do that.
So for many decades, I think 1948, they first stated that the World Health Organization talks about health being a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease or infirmity. And there's no more fundamental purpose for governments than in supporting people to expand their quality of life. A successful economy is important because it supports jobs, income, well-funded public services. All of these matter for individual well-being, but clearly the conventional focus on GDP does not do that.
So as Liberal Democrats we've backed the UBI and we're now positioned as a political party to put forward the well-being of people and the planet first.
So looking at the chat box can you all tell me how many people have heard of five a day. What that means in terms of … this my special field … eating both fruit and vegetables? Can everybody put in the chat box … even more important what the five ways to wellbeing are? The five things we all need to stay mentally well? Let's have a look see what people are starting to type, if anything.
This is where we're going for audience participation. Let's have one. Sleep, yeah that's a good one. What else can we have? So officially I'm going to start listing them, but keep typing as I speak.
So the first important way to get well-being is to connect with people. Now clearly this has been challenging during COVID times when we're all socially distanced and we're all, many of us, are in lock down. And there's such strong evidence that connecting with people, with things and others, it contributes vitally to our well-being. We have to have those social relationships or relationships with animals and it acts as a buffer against mental [ill] health for people of all ages.
The second one is being active … doesn't matter how active. Physical activity, walking, experiencing nature. It's essential for keeping our well-being, being active.
The third one is to take notice and studies have shown that being aware of what's in our environment, just noticing things, savouring that moment can really heighten our awareness and our mental well-being.
Learning. That's why Liberal Democrats have always been a part of education. Lifelong learning and starting that out from right from the beginning with a healthy early years, encouraging our self-esteem, our problems solving abilities and just learning, learning and learning.
Giving. People who help others and who give to others also are much more likely to be happy. Again politics is so much about take and resources, but actually if you give out to the world the best you can, then that will enable not only yourself but others to be happy. And kindness is something that we can promote. These are things that people think is soft choices, but actually if we measure them properly these would be the hard choices. These would be the things that could change the world.
So in conclusion, to kick out the discussion, because I don't want to talk all the time. At the same time as taking urgent action to tackle the COVID and climate crisis, as part of the same problem we must start tackling our crisis in mental health and loneliness. And we must work on political ways of creating more well-being.
Great Jane, thank you very much for starting us off and helping our audience to identify what well-being is all about. Let me just ask … I haven't seen Jane Dodds arrive …
She's been in the chat of the auditorium so I believe she's still waiting for the vote.
She's just here she's going to be joining us any second because I have just now seen her and added her. She will be joining us on the panel very shortly I hope. As she joins us then I'm going to hand over to Oliver Jones-Lyons who is here as a Young Liberal representative and speaker and he's been recently co-opted, hi Jane. He's been recently co-opted as the Youth Officer for the Green Liberal Democrats, so Oliver over to you for a couple of minutes please.
Hello. Young people are angry, they are fed up and they are shouting about it. Some aren't listening. We, the Liberal Democrats are their champion. This generation will leave school, college or university out in the world economically decimated by not only a pandemic but a failed response. Generation Rent still looms large with young people unable to secure their shelter and falling victim to unscrupulous landlords.
A woeful climate change response means the previous generation has failed in their duty to ensure that our environment is maintained to the next. Well-being is a necessary economic indicator that has not been factored into decisions, both politically and in wider society. We must now change our metrics if we are going to ensure that the younger generation has the ability to enjoy not in the environment, but even their lives. The postcode lottery is a great example of somewhere where services just aren't good enough and mental health services are specifically a great example of this. We have piled so much money into physical health but we've ignored mental ill health for a long time. It's now starting to change, it's now starting to change, which is a good direction but we aren't there yet.
The key thing to consider in all of this is that GDP as a metric doesn't factor in a lot of the
negative externalities that can't be quantified, because they're individual. They are they're very individual. Mental health is the example I'm going to run with here because you can't factor. And you can't say someone is more economically valuable because they're mentally well versus them being mentally unwell. That's nonsense, something that can be done on the quantitative level. So we need a more qualitative measure. Sorry, I really struggle with those two words. So now we must consider measures such as that used by New Zealand.
Scotland has now taken a well-being approach and also Iceland. These are all measures that will change the approach to everything and that's the sort of radical approach the Liberal Democrats need to take and that's why I was happy to see UBI pass last night. It draws together our message and what I hope will happen with the messaging for the Liberal Democrats is we will go from just saying "a greener more caring society" to "a greener more caring society focused on well-being".
And I think that's what Ed Davey is really starting to talk about now when he says we need to focus on the issues that really matter to people and that this is the issues that matter to people. It's their well-being. That is the duty of a government the duty of a government is to care for people's well-being, and for too long as we've seen in the response to this pandemic, it's been too much about what keeps our GDP higher, not what saves lives, not what will not will ensure that education of young people continues to go on come what may. It's not what it's not what it's considering. What is best for the mental health of the society? And of course because this is a Green LibDem event, what is good for the environment?
Our environment is under great threat and the woeful, truly woeful, climate change response is a problem that will plague my generation and probably the generation after and probably many generations after that. Our decisions that we make now are going to impact us for generations, so it is important we get this right. It is important that Liberal Democrats now start to think in terms of well-being and that's why I'm very happy speaking at this event today. Yes, thank you for the opportunity both Keith and the Green Liberal Democrats and also to the Young Liberal executives for allowing me to speak on their behalf.
Well thank you Oliver. It wasn't a question of allowing you as a question and encouraging you. I think we need more young people joining the Green Liberal Democrats to make sure that we carry forward the radical views that Green Liberal Democrats have always portrayed within the party and outside the party.
One thing just to point out there is the youth membership scheme that I will link if you'd link to greenlibdems.org.uk/join there is now a paragraph on how to join as a young member for the token one pound rate, so just thought I'd plug that since that's a new thing that we've got just at this conference
Good thank you very much for that link I'm also delighted to see that we've got 145 people here so this is this is one of those sessions that if it was in a normal conference room we would have been very crowded with people crouching down behind the doors and sitting on radiators and all sorts of things. It is a really crowded meeting. Delighted to have you all with us. I am going to introduce next Jane Dodds. She probably really needs no introduction, but in relation to this particular event it's very welcome to have you here Jane having successfully piloted the UBI motion through yesterday. I was pleased to see the vote was 975 for and 250 against, so it was a very substantial positive vote. What I think you have thought might have been rather closer. So explain to us how you think well-being can be improved by UBI because I think that's why we all supported it.
Well thank you very much and thank you Keith and thank you to the Green LibDems as well. Thank you for your support for Universal Basic Income. Really appreciated that and I know you wanted to submit an amendment but we appreciated us working together on that, so thank you so much. And I want to thank Oliver as well. What a fantastic speech you've just made, but also you made last night as well, amazing. And Jane, lovely to see you as well on this panel. Thank you very much for joining us and thank you very much for allowing me to say a few words as well.
I'm going to throw a curveball in here and I'm gonna start with this but I'm gonna bring it back to this as well. I wonder whether the discussion around well-being versus GDP is a very middle-class bubble discussion. It's something that I think we need to reflect on when we do talk about this, particularly when we knock on doors. It means very little to people for example that I work with. I work in child protection/social work and really for them it is a day-to-day struggle in terms of food on the table and getting money to feed and to look after their families. I just want to bring it round to talk very briefly about UBI and also about the Green Agenda as well.
Can I start with a quick plug for Wales. I'm not going to lose the opportunity as Welsh leader talking a little bit about what we've done here in Wales. In Wales we've got a very different position that there is certainly in England and I don't think it's in Scotland. We have something called the Well-being of Future Generations Act1https://www.futuregenerations.wales/about-us/future-generations-act which is actually a league … is measured up against how that will affect the next generation. It's about making tomorrow in Wales a better place. The current Commissioner for Future Generations is called Sophie Howe and she champions UBI and the Climate Emergency. She is very much somebody who links the two together, who talks about how important it is for everything we do here in Wales to be measured up against "Does it meet the needs of those who are the poorest in our society and does it meet the needs of our environment?"
If we look at where we are now, you know I wanted to say post-COVID, but we're actually mid-COVID and potentially mid-COVID going into you know even a more difficult situation with COVID. What we've seen obviously is a situation with more people working at home, less people travelling, the Green Economy really being at the focus of what we're doing, and also quality of life. People are talking more now about
quality of life. But is everybody talking about quality of life? Do we have a situation where actually we're a bit imbalanced? Those of us who can work at home including me and my family, those of us who have access to laptops, access to whatever, we can work at home. But actually if you're in a poorly paid role, if you're in a job which means that you have to travel into work, you're required to go into work and you're in a very, very poorly paid role in terrible conditions then actually the discussion around well-being being the new measurement doesn't actually help you at all.
But it is, isn't it? It's about the metrics. It's about how we do measure this going forward. We need to include people who are poorer in this debate in this discussion, because it's easy for me to talk about it. I'm in a very privileged position. It's easy for me to say "yes, let's measure mental health. Yes, let's measure physical health. Yes, let's measure our environments", but actually does that mean enough to people who are really struggling?
So I want to throw in some other things in here. I want to throw in how do we measure statistics around domestic abuse? How do we look at how we have less children subject to child protection plans? How do we look at less drug use, less alcohol use in our societies? How do we move away from thinking this isn't about, just about, although it's very important, mental health. But it is about those measurements as well that directly affect the lives of those people who are the poorest.
And my final point is this. This is really about the Liberal Democrats breaking out and thinking differently as was the debate last night on Universal Basic Income. We've got something here to champion and what we need to champion is how we look at Universal Basic Income. How we look at well-being. How we look at green environments. How they connect together and how we have those discussions which people who are not in the Liberal Democrat bubble. Who are not even in the political bubble. Who are not in our mid … my, I'll own this myself, my middle class bubble, but people who are outside of that. We need to actually reach out to them and talk with them about what matters in their lives.
I'll finish there, thank you very much.
Okay Jane, thank you very much indeed and thank you for the challenge. As you were speaking about the supposedly middle class approach to quality of life, I was thinking that really for people who are in the state of poverty that you describe, actually getting them out of poverty is for them improving their well-being and I think they would they would appreciate that. It's been interesting that over the last few months some people's well-being has slightly improved by the fact that they have been able to spend more time at home with their families, so getting work-life balance is one of the things that we ought to be more careful of in terms of well-being …
Just really a point there though is still, that is about us in the middle class.
I'm going to be a bit provocative because the work-life balance for people who are really poor isn't there. It really isn't and it hasn't been. They've had kids off school. They've not had enough money even to put in the bank. They've got a sense of hopelessness. They've lost their job. And you know these are the sorts of people who just think two fingers up to us. Two fingers up to the state.
I'm working with families who've got COVID fines on top of everything else, because they just think we'll just have a party. You know, those are the sorts of people that we need to be reaching out to and
thinking about. So sorry to cut across you, but I think we need to just think of it differently here. We need to be thinking very much wider. That it's easy for us to say "yeah let's have another work life balance discussion", but let's just think about those people who really don't have a choice here. Hope you don't mind.
I love the fact that you're challenging what I was saying from the Chair. I think I think it's something that we ought to do a lot more of in this party. Jane you're, Jane Brophy, you're going to want to come back.
Before you do, let me just say to the members of the audience, we have probably about 20 minutes, so if you can be thinking of specific questions. I have seen lots of comments going through the chat as we go but if you can think of specific questions and you want to come on and ask a very brief question, I can invite you onto the panel so we can all see and hear the question as well. So Jane, Jane Brophy, back to you for a minute there to I hope perhaps challenge Jane Dodds back for us.
No, no actually, I think Jane Dodds is right to challenge and I think the challenge goes beyond just a challenge to the Green Liberal Democrats. I think it's a challenge to the whole environmental movement.
Do you think this focusing on the issue of well-being, I think we need to change the language and the way we talk about it. But actually this is the missing link, because it should connect us with the people that Jane works with. I'm an NHS worker I know from my professional experience the types of lives that people live and how different they are to us in our middle class bubble. And the Liberal Democrats have traditionally not been great at reaching out to those people who are not part of our own kind of social, kind of, the people we associate with. We've got to do things differently. Actually maybe well-being isn't the right term.
But the things that Jane talks about - domestic violence, about having enough food on the table about just wanting to live in the moment and forget the COVID rules. Of course we've got to understand why people feel that way and reach out to them and focusing on well-being rather than just on the environmental problems. I think that actually is the missing link and Jane is right to challenge us. Maybe it's the way we tackle well-being not the fact that we should do it.
Okay Oliver, I don't know whether you want to come in as well on that one.
What I was going to say was actually that particularly about work-life balance, the working from home has actually made a lot of people in particularly the working class actually have a significantly worse work-life balance, because they can't leave the workplace, go home and then relax till the next day. They have 12 hour work days in some cases and that was a fear that, I can't remember which, it was one of the Government advisers I believe was talking about in terms of the change to working from home again for the longer term, until March. The other thing I would say about the bubble is it's also why perhaps we need to as Liberal Democrats consider hybrid conferences from now on in, because I know we've all seen that in the debate last night, for example, the amount of people who were first-time speakers who hadn't been able to access conference before. And we need to hear those voices.
And this is my first conference, actually. I haven't came down to conference before. I will after this. I haven't had the chance before, so it is an important thing to widen the amount of voices that the Liberal Democrats are hearing from. Because our problem isn't necessarily that we as a party exist in a bubble, it's that we in Conference and in our main focal points exist in the bubble, because there are working-class Liberal Democrats, there are younger Liberal Democrats. There are all of these groups within the Liberal Democrats and these people do have voices and they are quite loud with their voices. It's that where it really matters, on the committees for example and in Conference that their voices aren't able to be heard, because they can't access…
So it is important that perhaps we consider where the bubbles are. But yeah, that'd be my only contribution on that fact that. I do agree with Jane that perhaps on some of the discussions of these issues we do operate in a bubble.
Okay thank you very much I I've noticed one or two of the comments, there's one from Nick Strugnell here. "I'm all for UBI and also dumping GDP as the key measure, but how do we afford it?"
There have been quite a lot of discussions about levels of UBI and where the money is going to come from and I think as Jane was indicating that is something that we're going very much to need to sort out in the next 12 months or so if we're going to be able to show this as a Liberal Democrat policy area. I think one of the issues that it has raised for all of us as well as some of the problems that COVID has raised is the whole economic structure of taxation is going to be something that we need to look at very carefully. It would have been very much better I think back in March if the Chancellor had been able to introduce a UBI and support those people who are on the gig economy, and the sort of people who have been trying to open businesses by themselves, but fall through all the networks of the support from the Chancellor in terms of in terms of his approach by passing it through businesses. I think we've got to very much focus more on individuals and how they operate economically.
So can I ask our speakers just to look at the economic issues. Not how we pay for UBI. I think that's something that we perhaps talk about over the next 12 months, but how we how we change the approach of measuring economic quality of life and how we're how we are going to afford taxation in a different way. Jane Brophy first and then Jane Dodds and then Oliver in that order.
I think this is something we need to reframe. I've been looking at the chat there's a huge agreement with the challenge that Jane Dodds has given us today as Green Liberal Democrats. We are perceived as you know mostly, a sort of, a middle-class group. And it's about changing the language, because I think actually if we … This is where the Liberal Democrats have got and possibly a niche place. I don't think that the Labour Party's version of socialism has worked to tackle the inequalities in society, because we haven't had that movement to empower people that Jane works with and others work with on the chat.
It's about how we move people away from poverty. It's fundamentally, in our constitution about tackling poverty, ignorance and conformity. So that means genuinely tackling poverty. Genuinely tackling inequality and genuinely working towards empowering all people. And it is about everybody and actually if we did work to change how we value things, for how we look at the economic indicators. In itself that would mean that people who are at the bottom of …, the homeless people. People who are struggling to make ends meet. People that work-life balance means nothing because they've just got to go out there and clean the hospitals. Those people.
But automatically, if we value well-being then that would immediately raise and lift people out of poverty in terms of an aspiration. It would be fundamental to what we do.
Okay, Jane Dodds
Yeah. I this is a huge question and let me just say very quickly why we didn't get into the debate last night around the costings of UBI. It wasn't a debate about a taxation policy. It was a debate looking at the principle around UBI. Delighted it was passed of course. But one of the things I'd just like to throw in here that we could be thinking about in terms of measurement, a metric around well-being, is those who are tax dodgers. What are we doing about that? We're always focused on the people who are, you know, squirreling away benefits, but we never … the balance really still is not there. We're not brave enough to take on those tax avoiders and that's one thing we must do.
And clearly, two other things really quickly. We have to make sure that we do have a fair taxation system. Land Value Tax. We've got fabulous policy around that. Let's talk to people in a way that means something to them. Let's talk about higher taxes. We have to if we want good public services. We have to have to look at higher taxes and that's absolutely essential.
And my final thing here is for us really to get thinking about how we reform some of the systems in our society that really keep the poor people right where they are. And we have some brilliant people in some brilliant roles doing that. Education is a big issue here. It's all part of the picture here isn't it? And I'm going to be say again here in Wales, we've got a Liberal Democrat who's driving through education, who's looking at really progressive education policies, as opposed to her English counterpart, dare I say. Kirsty is really showing how it's done here in Wales and how we really do level-up. But it really is about a different system.
Final thing for me is, and I you know I could go on and on about this until the cows come home, but UBI, we need to be looking at how we pay for things. When we sell things off that belong to us, the money needs to come back to us. So we've sold off council houses - where's the money? We've sold off the oil fields - where's the money? You know there will be things coming up in the next two to five years that the government will be looking at selling off. We need to make sure that that comes back into the UK. We build up this sovereign wealth fund for the people and that sort of money then goes to build up how we then pay for a UBI. But there's lots of models out there. I don't want to get into that now.
I also want to think how do we reshape our Green Economy? So actually we're putting more money into the Green Economy because we know it pays us. Not just in the environment, but we know it pays us in terms of finances. So how do we get those high-tech industries that are green industries, that will give the people that I work with an opportunity of hope and retraining and aspiration. How do we get those green jobs you know really funded well so that they actually are the ones that people get good training in.
Because we're going to have to change. You know automation, you know we we're in a different place. We were in a different place pre-COVID and we're in a lot different place now.
Thank you very much. One of the … before I come to Oliver. One of the interesting things about this conference, about the online conference that is very different from the previous conferences that we have had in the physical sense, is that as the panel is speaking there is a lot of chat going on. And some of that chat is very, very informative. What I'm hoping is, we are being told by the organisers of the conference that we are going to get a recording of each of the fringe meetings. And I think and I hope that recording will include the chat side of it as well. So after the event, after the conference, what we will try and do within the Green Liberal Democrats is to try and pick out some of the most salient points from the chat
and put that onto the Green Liberal Democrat website, because there are so many ideas flowing through there. I've seen one or two of them and picked them up, but I think we need to get hold of these because they are very important for the future looking at policy.
I would again before Oliver's speech, just put a plug in to say that we would very much welcome people to join the Green Liberal Democrats and help us in this technical side, providing information into the party about environmental issues. I think it's really important. Oliver, right, back to you now.
So I wanted to work with what Jane said a little bit there actually, Jane Dodds that is. I basically want to argue that well-being is about perspective, is probably the best way to put it. And it's maybe less of a political concept and more of a social concept, because the example that was given there was the UBI debate and in the UBI debate I saw a very interesting chat message actually, on the topic of chat messages.
Where someone said UBI doesn't make people do more. It wasn't "do more work", it wasn't "do more …", it wasn't very simple. It was just the concept of more.
And it gave me a bit of a question in my head, and I saw Jason Billin reply to it and say ... It was a reply to Jason Billin actually about volunteering and people being able to do more volunteer work if a UBI were implemented.
And I think that well-being as a discussion is less a topic about how do we implement policy? It's about how do we formulate policy? And when we consider it in the terms of that, we also need to go further back even more and how do we talk about society in general? And we talk about society at the moment in terms of economic value, and UBI as a policy cannot be judged in that … Most policies that are things that we can explain that are good can be termed, talked about in economic terms exclusively. Sure they have economic benefits as to most things that are broadly good, but so do things that are mostly broadly bad.
We need to change this concept of more. We need to change this concept of good and we need to change this concept of what we should be aiming for as a society. And that is something that I've seen very much in this UBI debate and very much in other debates at the minute - that we aren't fully there yet as Liberal Democrats. We do still fall into those traps and that's why I think this event is actually quite important today. To have this discussion about the social perspective of aiming towards well-being as this idea of more. More well-being, not necessarily always more economic power.
Economic success should filter in to the well-being not the other way around. So it's all about perspective in my view. On the tax evasion/avoidance question, again it's a matter of perspective. We've been focused as a society on benefits fraud, which makes up such a tiny amount that it's actually getting to a point where the amount that we're spending on enforcing against benefits fraud is nearly as much as we'd save if benefits fraud didn't exist.
We aren't doing the same on tax avoidance and evasion, and whereas/worst??? it may be unicorn?? it's not something that we're going to pull billions out of and make society this magical place from. It is money that the taxpayer is owed and it's hurting everyone who pays tax to get this. Sure benefits fraud does as well, but when we're targeting benefit cheats we're not targeting the cheats, we're targeting working people who've made a mistake on a phone, who haven't been able to attend a job centre appointment, who have not being able to fulfil requirements because they have caring or child raising requirements. We're not targeting when we're targeting this elusive unicorn of benefits fraud we aren't targeting benefit cheats. That's not who has been targeted, but we need to get rid of that narrative as well. So I think again my point is essentially perspective.
OK, thanks Oliver, I'm just conscious of time. It has been mentioned to me that Catherine Bearder is in the audience and might like a few words. If Catherine would like to click on the "ask to join panel" I can bring her onto the screen if she's still there.
Other than that we have about five or six minutes left in theory, although in practice it might be 10 or 12 minutes in practice, so I am going to be asking our panellists just to have a last word or two.
But I do want to pick up something that Francis Beddington said and Jeremy Hargreaves indicated about Alaska and Norway who have oil and have been spreading out the revenue of that oil through taxation, through contribution to the population. Something the Liberal Party said way back when I was first a member of the Liberal Party, when we were talking about North Sea oil, was that we should be putting a proportion of the benefits of North Sea oil into the tax system so that we could benefit from it. From all of us should be benefiting from it and the Conservative Party wouldn't have it. The profits went to the people who were extracting the oil. That really has irritated me over many, many years.
I can't see Catherine Bearder having asked to come on the panel so perhaps she's not there anymore.
Okay let me come back to our panellists then. Thank you very much for all of what you have said so far. We've got a few minutes left so can you just make a quick summary. I'll go in reverse order - Oliver and then Jane Brophy and then Jane Dodds. If you can keep your remarks fairly short because we're nearly the end. Oliver.
Just like to say thank you to everyone who's attended this fringe really. 167 people are here right now, it peaked at about 172. This has been a very engaging discussion. There's been a lot of challenging topics and it's really been quite enjoyable for me at least and I'm sure it's been very informative for everyone else.
I think really that this is all about framing the debate. It's maybe not about specific policies, other fringes might be and other policy debates. It's about how we frame the debate and what principle we pursue and I think that's where I'm going to leave it, because that's quite simple way to make my point.
Thank you very much. Jane Brophy now for a couple of minutes.
So I think this is all about turning the world upside down. I think this is the beginning of a massive debate that Oliver's outlined. Jane has challenged us rightly, and if we could take what Jane Dodds has been saying and mesh it with our environmentalism, with our well-being approach. If we could take that absolute commitment to work with people who are experiencing poverty and lift people out of poverty. That happens mostly right back in the early years. If we could reframe our economics to think about well-being as crucial as GDP that could be the thing that really does turn the world upside down.
Okay Jane Brophy, thank you. And I come to our other Jane, Jane Dodds for I think what will be the final words, but I think you've got a minute or two left as well.
OK, thank you very much.
Diolch yn fawr iawn.
I've got just two things to say. I think there is something for us to think about in terms of how we put the well-being of people and our planet at the forefront of everything we do. That really is the combination of how we as Liberal Democrats across the UK need to be starting to think. How do we put it at the centre of everything we do? And it's a bit like where I started, the Future Generations Commissioner,
that's what she does. Every bit of legislation, every bit of action that goes through the Welsh Senedd is checked against her. And she says yes this will help the next generation, no this won't. We need to just do a little bit of fact checking as it were on everything that we do in the Liberal Democrats to make sure well-being of people, well-being of planet.
And that it is about the well-being of all of us and I do think as you've heard, it's so important that we reach out to those people who are … you know people I work with, because we all understand our own lives, but we don't understand the lives of others really who are in really difficult and challenging situations.
The second thing is this. I've seen the chats around sovereign wealth funds and as we've said Keith around the situation in Alaska and the situation in Norway. And of course the irony there is that they are gaining from what is a shockingly outrageous climate busting activity, which is mining for oil. You know in Alaska every year around October time people there get about $1200 to $1500. Not a lot, but they all get that amount of money based on their oil revenue for that year. Now of course we wouldn't want to go down that road, but I think we can go down another road.
We're an island here in the UK. Where is the investment, where is the real investment in tidal power? Where is the real investment in how we can use our coastline to create that energy which we can then sell off and that can come back to us in the UK? That is the rethinking that needs to happen that actually our assets shouldn't be oil for a number of reasons. It should be about a green energy agenda that creates wealth, that creates jobs and then we put that money back into the UK and that's how we fund things like UBI, better services, better public sector services like the ones that Jane works in. Better services for students and young people, like Oliver so we've got that future ahead of us.
So let's think about how we link those two things together - well being & people and planet. Creating a Green Economy which actually we get to keep the money and we get to be really exciting and inspirational in how we do that, thank you.
Fabulous, and thank you for ending on an exciting and inspirational note.
Just to close the comments here I have noticed Jeremy Hargreaves is just in chat saying about various issues, policy papers and so on that we do have available for us already on wellbeing. I would say to Jeremy, and all the others who have mentioned issues like this in the chat, that we would welcome those policy papers being repeated on the Green Liberal Democrat website. We want to make the website much more vibrant for us as we go into the future in terms of, as Oliver said, framing the discussion, framing the argument about how we go ahead from here.
And before we finish let me just do a quick plug for other Green Liberal Democrat sessions. We've got a session at four o'clock on planning issues and we've got a session at 18:45 on carbon taxation and we have a session on Monday at 12 o'clock with our superstar guest Jane Goodall, so I hope you'll come along to all of those. In the meantime, I hope you'll also join us in the Green Liberal Democrat booth for more information about what Green Liberal Democrats can do.
I would finish with the exhortation that John F Kennedy said "Think not what your country can do for you, think what you can do for your country" and I would paraphrase that into the Green Liberal Democrats. "Think not what your Green Liberal Democrats can do for you, but what you can do for Green Liberal Democrats".
Okay. I think we're probably all going to wave to our audience to say goodbye. Thank you for being there audience. They're all still here as well. 166 have actually lasted the whole hour, so thank you very much indeed and we look forward to seeing you again. Thanks Jane, thanks Jane and thanks Oliver, great.
1 Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 https://www.futuregenerations.wales/about-us/future-generations-act