The 2020 Programme for Government committed to developing a set of well-being indices for Ireland, to create a well-rounded, holistic view of how Irish society is faring; and to utilise these indices in a systematic way across government policymaking at local and national levels, in setting budgetary priorities, evaluating programmes and reporting progress. Since then, the Government has developed and adopted a well-being framework (WBF) for Ireland, with 11 dimensions of well-being, and an accompanying dashboard of 35 indicators to measure progress on these dimensions.
NESC has carried out three phases of work to support the development and roll-out of this well-being framework:
- In July 2023, NESC published Inequality and Well-Being Frameworks (Council Report No.163) – This report looks at the potential of well-being frameworks to identify and address inequalities. It finds that well-being frameworks help to identify inequalities, as they require data to be disaggregated, on the basis of e.g. gender, age, social class, disability, ethnic background. They also look for data on environmental and other inequalities. However, there are a number of data gaps which need to be pinpointed and addressed. Well-being frameworks also hold the potential to address inequalities, through for example new ways of working, such as dialogue and incorporation of well-being metrics into Budget decisions. However, it is likely that well-being frameworks with specific targets and a mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ measures can better support longer-term positive impacts on equality.
- In June 2022, NESC published Towards Transformative Outcomes: Examples of how Well-being Frameworks have been Embedded into Policy Making. This research looks at how national well-being frameworks have been incorporated into budgeting and policy-making processes in New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. It also looks at the approach taken under Ireland’s Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures – The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 (BOBF). BOBF is a sectoral policy framework, but has similar elements to those found in national well-being frameworks. Information was gathered through literature reviews and interviews with those working to design, implement and/or monitor the various well-being frameworks.
- In July 2021, NESC published Ireland’s Well-being Framework: Consultation Report. This outlined Secretariat research and the Council’s views on the value of developing a well-being framework for Ireland, as well as the outcomes of deliberation by a Stakeholder and Expert Group set up by NESC to support the development of such a framework. The report also included the results of NESC consultation on the issue with over 451 organisations representing population groups, or economic, social, environmental or democratic interests.