IGN learnings

North of Tyne's Wellbeing Framework

Carnegie UK

Carnegie UK

Ben Thurman, Senior Policy Officer

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"We have an economy that grows whether or not we thrive... We need an economy where we thrive whether or not it grows.”

- Kate Raworth, Creator of Doughnut Economics.

This month, four thousand people gathered in Brussels to talk about how we redesign our economy. On the same day that the European Parliament opened its Beyond Growth 2023 conference, the Centre for Thriving Places and Carnegie UK joined members of the IGN to discuss what local and regional authorities could do to put wellbeing at the heart of decision-making.

Echoing conversations in Brussels, they argued for a shift from a singular focus on economic growth, towards a more balanced understanding of the many and varied things that contribute to a good life.

But the world cannot wait”, they wrote, “for every national government leader to get on board. We need this shift to happen at a local level.”

North of Tyne's Wellbeing Framework

The conversation was illuminated by practical learning from the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA). In 2021, they developed a Wellbeing Framework that articulated the social, economic, environmental and democratic outcomes they want to achieve and a set of indicators to understand progress.

Participants heard from Mayor Jamie Driscoll about NTCA’s founding aim to improve people’s lives in a way that is equitable and sustainable. And they also heard about the way that they developed their wellbeing framework, centring the voices and experiences of over 2,000 people from the Tyne Bridge to Hadrian’s Wall.

Key learnings

The resulting discussion drew out several key insights that might be applied and adapted elsewhere.

  • Investing in community engagement enhanced both the quality and legitimacy of NTCA’s Wellbeing Framework. It’s often said that people are uninterested in local decision-making, or tired of being asked for their views. But NTCA found that if you create opportunities to talk about what really matters to people and what sort of future they want for their children, people want to be part of that. This resonated across the group, whether participants were building a wellbeing framework, creating a dashboard to measure progress, or delivering a citizens’ assembly.
  • A wellbeing framework can help you to look at complex problems in a different way. It is more than a way to hold decision makers to account; it’s a tool to unlock partnerships that deliver shared goals. In the North of Tyne context, that means that efforts to improve employment don’t sit in isolation; they focus on good work and green jobs, and join up with things like childcare and transport. All of this aims to improve people’s wellbeing in a holistic way, for current and future generations.

This won’t be a quick fix. But NTCA now has a tool to look at big challenges in the round and identify connections between different policy areas. In doing so, they and others in the Inclusive Growth Network are finding ways to improve lives, equitably and sustainably.

We urgently need an economy that allows people to thrive, and that shift is happening at a local level.