Everyone needs enough money to buy life's basics, but few really believe that, on its own, cash is enough. That's why Oxfam Scotland has created a new way of measuring what makes a good life: one that takes money into account, whilst also recognising that it takes more than just economic growth to make a prosperous nation.
The Oxfam Humankind Index (HKI) was launched in 2012 and is about valuing the things that really matter to the people of Scotland. This might include their social relations, their health and skills, their physical environment and natural context, and their financial assets.
The first HKI assessment of Scotland's performance looked at the period 2009-10 and saw that the country's overall HKI prosperity increased by 1.2%. This was argely due to improvements in how people felt about their health and community spirit. The second assessment of Scotland's performance, released in June 2013, looked at the period
2010-11 and shows another 1.2% rise. However, many of the changes are small, it may be more appropriate to consider prosperity as broadly flat.
We found that since the economic downturn there have been significant falls in people's financial security, the number of Scots feeling they had secure and suitable work, and the number who thought they had enough money. We also concluded that the country's most deprived communities are lagging behind, with a 10% gap in people's health compared with Scotland as a whole.
The latest report shows that women and men fare differently on different issues. Women seem to do better when it comes to having good relationships, skills and education and being part of a community, while men do better when it comes to feeling safe, having enough money and financial security.
We hope this Index will help the Government to focus on what really matters, not just policies that try to advance economic growth regardless of the cost on communities or our environment
It's about remembering that the economy should serve the people, not the other way around.
Consulting on the index
The views of the people of Scotland have been crucial in constructing the Humankind Index, we wanted it to be a reflection of what the people of Scotland say are their priorities, concerns and ambitions.
To gather these views we held ten street stalls, eight community meetings and ten focus groups across Scotland, giving particular focus to the voices of seldom heard groups including African refugee women, young people living in poverty in rural areas, people with learning disabilities and people with blood-borne diseases.
More than 1,000 people completed an online survey, which was also complemented by a representative YouGov poll of another 1,000 people. All this information was then compiled by the New Economics Foundation to give a series of weighted priorities (or sub-domains) set for Scotland by the people of Scotland.
The first Oxfam Humankind Index was also broken down by local authority to show how different areas around Scotland are performing. You can see these results in the local authority appendix.
We want the Humankind Index to be at the forefront of policy makers thinking when they come up with new policies. That is why, with the generous support of the Carnegie UK Trust, and in partnership with the new economics foundation and Happiness Works, we have developed the Humankind Index Policy Assessment Tool. It is not just for politicians; it can be used by campaigners, voluntary organisations and the general public to develop their own policies or hold politicians to account on the things that really matter to the people
of Scotland. Why not give it a try?
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