In the run-up to the 2010 general election, in our document A Relationships State of the Nation: Wellbeing in the Mirror – achieving and measuring a new sort of change, we put this question to the parties and the electorate: What do you want Britain to be like in 2015 or even 2020? What are the key changes you would like to see?
Five years ago we advocated the development of a robust survey of the Relationships State of the Nation which holds up a mirror to our society and asks:
Do you like what you see? Do you like the direction in which we are travelling? Only by developing a new way of measuring progress will we know that we are making the progress we need to.
We recognise, of course, that progress on the economy – tackling the deficit and restoring growth – is essential. But surely we want more than that? New goals require new methods and new measures. The 1979 election was about market freedom and lower taxes. 1997 was about public service delivery. 2009 was about economic recovery. So what now? We have argued that politicians must be more intentional when it comes to wellbeing. And the key factor affecting our wellbeing is the state of our relationships. The connectedness of family and friends, trust in neighbours and strangers, relationships in business and public service – these are the true substance of progress.
The Relationships Foundation believes that true national wealth must include policy that supports families and a range of stable relationships. We propose triple testing of policy, for looking at policy from a penumbra of issues surrounding the family; we make the case for governments to motivate, provide opportunity for and support family relationships; we argue for an overarching family-proofing of policy as the cornerstone of the process of government. In the end wellbeing is about living different lives. To know if we have achieved progress, some form of measurement is required – not needless targets and testing – but a new way of measuring progress.