Section 2 of the Irish Budget, announced the Department of Finance in October 2020, was entitled ‘Moving from GDP to Wellbeing’. The section describes the limitations of GDP, acknowledges the limitations of economic statistics alone to accurately reflect the wellbeing of a population, and introduces the idea of having a national wellbeing measurement in the country as a necessary alternative measure to ensure the drive of economic growth does not eclipse progress towards higher living standards for all.
The Programme for Government 2020 outlines the intention to develop new measures of wellbeing and includes a Wellbeing Dashboard designed to inform the budget process, with a commitment to move towards SDG budgeting.
This programme takes into account lessons learned from examples of wellbeing measures and initiatives in other countries, including New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, the UK and the OCED’s Wellbeing Framework. The development of these measures of wellbeing will be guided by group of experts from across civil service, academia, and the private sector, with the aim to bring Ireland in line with the other European and OECD countries.
The Budget highlights takeaways from the OECD’s How’s life in Ireland Reportwhich outlines Ireland relative strengths and weaknesses in wellbeing compared to the OECD countries.
While this programme is new, Ireland has been undertaking equality and green budgeting measures for some time .
Gender budgeting underpins Ireland’s equality budgeting work: departments are asked to set targets against nine dimensions of equality. Ireland’s tax-benefits model includes a gender module. These efforts are led by an Equality Budgeting Experts Advisory Group encompassing representatives from across government agencies and delegates from civil society and academia.
Better understanding of gendered impacts has led to investments in childcare and parental care; support for art and culture for women; efforts to boost women’s participation in sport; apprenticeships for women; research grants for women; smoking reduction projects; work to broaden access to education; efforts to end energy poverty; and so on.
The equality work in Ireland’s budgets sits alongside poverty proofing of government policies. This assesses policy proposals according to their impact on key social outcomes, using a social impact assessment (SIA) framework that looks at the demographics of people receiving public services and disaggregates households and by income, economic status, household composition, and age. These assessments are released the same day as the budget.
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