The Northern Ireland Executive should:
- Legislate, as a matter of urgency, to protect the wellbeing of current and future generations, replicating the duties on local government for all departments and agencies
- Hold a Citizens’ Assembly on collective wellbeing as part of the post-COVID recovery plan
- Provide secure and ongoing funding for the administration of community planning
- Devolve regeneration powers to local government
These are among 18 recommendations in Carnegie UK’s report aimed at Community Planning Partnerships in local councils and the Northern Ireland Executive, all designed to improve our quality of life and wellbeing outcomes.
Since 2017, Carnegie UK has provided financial and in-kind support to three Community Planning Partnerships as part of the Embedding Wellbeing Project: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council.
Building on nearly a decade’s commitment to wellbeing in Northern Ireland, the report reflects on what has been learned during the project and comes ahead of a scheduled review of community planning; the Executive’s finalising a new Programme for Government which will set out its priorities and actions to improve wellbeing for all; and the implementation of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.
Recommendations also include a need for greater collaborative working between partners, alignment of budgets and strategies, and multi-year ring-fenced funding for community planning. There is also a call for the Executive to legislate to place the wellbeing outcomes approach on a statutory footing, as well as establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to ensure that people have a say in the decisions that have an impact on their lives
Aideen McGinley, Deputy Chair of Carnegie UK , said: “We are delighted to launch this report that reflects the experience and learning from the project. This was informed by unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Councils and communities had to be flexible and responsive, and develop strong relationships in a rapidly changing situation”
“After the experience of the pandemic response the benefits of joint working across public services and with communities have been seen in action, and while the pandemic was a baptism of fire, it provided proof of concept.”
“Wellbeing is everyone having what they need to live well now and in the future. It is both social and economic, but much more than this, it is also about our environment, how we use the earth’s natural resources and our democratic participation in the decisions that affect us.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said the report would help shape new and more effective approaches to promoting wellbeing locally. “The introduction of Community Planning provided an opportunity for local Councils to rethink how they connect with the local community and how experience and resources can best be utilised through developing more collaborative and inclusive approaches.
“The Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland project has presented opportunities for shared learning which will assist local government bodies in improving public services as well as more effectively delivering on wellbeing outcomes. It has also shone a light on the need for new long-term strategies and policy reform, supported at every level, to bring about the positive and enduring changes that will promote societal wellbeing and a better quality of life for everyone.”
Read the report here.