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) 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 assessment of Scotland's performance
The first assessment of Scotland's performance shows that the country's overall prosperity increased by 1.2% between 2007-08 and 2009-10, largely due to improvements in how people felt about their health and community spirit.
This rise in prosperity could have been larger, but was hampered by the impact of the economic downturn on the Scots. We found that between 2007-08 and 2009-10, there was a 43% fall in people's financial security, a 26% fall in the number of Scots feeling they had secure and suitable work, and a 24% fall in 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, a 16% gap in how people are managing financially and a 40% gap in issues around the quality and safety of the local environment.
We hope this Index will help the Government to focus on what really matters, and to make more informed decisions about where Scotland wants to go. We want to ensure that policymakers make policies that bring real prosperity to Scotland, 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.
How each local authority compares
The Oxfam Humankind Index has also been broken down by local authority to show how different areas around Scotland are performing. You can see these results in the local authority appendix.
The island communities of Shetland, Eilean Siar (Western Isles) and Orkney top the list while North Lanarkshire, Glasgow City and East Ayrshire fill out the bottom three places. The island groups are boosted by a strong feeling of community and the quality of the environment, while the worst off areas are performing badly across almost all the domains of the Index.
Oxfam is now encouraging local and national government to examine these results in order to plan and prioritise their future actions to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.
Consulting on the Humankind 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.
We also welcomed the views of more than 1,000 people via an online survey and backed all this up with a representative YouGov poll of another 1000 people. All this information was then compiled by the New Economics Foundation to give a series of weighted priorities set for Scotland by the people of Scotland.
This new set of priorities puts decent housing and health at the top of the list of what Scotland's people say they need to live a good life. Economic factors are important too, but not overwhelmingly so. Security, stability and sufficiency are what people care about when it comes to jobs and money, not making millions at all costs. These priorities form the basis of the Oxfam Humankind Index.
In the course of this research we also worked with Scotland's Futures Forum to host an event in June 2011 at the Scottish Parliament, as part of our consultation. Read the report of the session.
Also, along with WWF and Friends of the Earth Scotland, we called on civil society organisations to work with us to set out a vision for the Purpose of Scotland, taking into account more than just economic growth. We were joined by 31 other organisations and contributed to the review of the National Performance Framework.
Download our briefing on Revising Scotland's National Performance Framework.
We welcome your feedback. Please send us your thoughts, ideas and questions to: email@example.com. You can also call the UK Poverty Programme in Scotland at the Oxfam Scotland Office: +44 (0) 141 285 8881.
If you'd like to be added you to our mailing list, please email us at the above address.