Influential Roundtable Launches New Recommendations To Improve Wellbeing In Northern Ireland

March 12, 2015

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The Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland has today launched a set of ten recommendations to help improve wellbeing in Northern Ireland.

The high-level Roundtable has worked over the course of a year to produce the recommendations, speaking to a wide range of people about the need for change to address some of the most enduring challenges in Northern Ireland.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust and Co-Chair of the Roundtable, said: “The Trust has seen first-hand how countries around the world such as Canada, the US, France and Scotland measure social progress and fed this experience into the work of the Roundtable. After learning from this international experience, the Roundtable believes that the time is right to develop a ‘wellbeing framework’ to guide and support the work of all public services in Northern Ireland.”

Among the ten recommendations for developing a wellbeing framework are introducing a new, innovative way of delivering public services by encouraging different departments and agencies to work together towards shared outcomes; focusing spending on achieving economic and social outcomes in difficult financial times; and improving reporting and communicating the progress made in Northern Ireland to politicians and the public.

The recommendations are well placed to address the wellbeing paradox in Northern Ireland – that despite consistently topping UK tables for self-reported wellbeing, communities in Northern Ireland continue to experience challenges left behind by the Troubles, such as unemployment, inequalities, and high suicide rates.

At the launch of the Roundtable’s new report at Clare House, Roundtable Co-Chair Aideen McGinley, said: “We’re delighted that after a year of gathering evidence and learning from the good practice of many in Northern Ireland and beyond, the Minister of Finance and Personnel is receiving our final report today.

“We’re grateful to the Minister and Chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee, Daithí McKay MLA, for their support and enthusiasm for our work and for showing leadership in the need to go beyond just measuring our economic activity to understand how well Northern Ireland is progressing.

“The Roundtable spoke with a wide range of people as we developed our framework and recommendations. We hope that the framework is the start of more conversations across all communities in Northern Ireland about what a better society should look like.”

The Minister for Finance and Personnel, Simon Hamilton MLA, said: “I welcome the publication of this report which sets out a route map for measuring wellbeing and for achieving wellbeing outcomes for citizens and communities in Northern Ireland. This sits well with the ethos of public sector reform – putting the citizen at the centre of service delivery.

“The proposals for a wellbeing framework for Northern Ireland are timely. The period of significant change we are currently experiencing provides scope for considering a more outcome based approach to delivering the objectives of government. This area is also a focus within the ongoing public governance review for Northern Ireland, being completed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“I intend to discuss this report with Executive colleagues and explore how we might progress the development of a wellbeing framework for Northern Ireland.”

Rolf Alter, Director of Public Governance and Territorial Development at the OECD, also welcomed the report, adding: “The Roundtable’s findings and recommendations are a valuable contribution to the international debate on what is required to live well in our communities, and how these priorities should be used to guide the work of governments.

“Trust in government is a key component of wellbeing and the OECD recognises it as one of the top challenges facing governments. Engaging with citizens about what is important to their wellbeing could be key to renewing democratic engagement and rebuilding trust in institutions in Northern Ireland.”

For more information on the Roundtable click here, follow the Roundtable on Twitter @NIwellbeing and download the new report here.