Media release: Today Loneliness NZ provided a contribution to the NZ Treasury Living Standards Framework.
By way of background, the Government budget 2019 will be different to all previous budgets. In addition to considering financial benefit and costs (i.e. Financial Capital), the budget 2019 will be based more broadly around the Living Standards Framework, which takes account of four types of Capital: Physical and Financial Capital, Natural Capital, Human Capital and Social Capital.
In February 2018, the Treasuring released four ‘discussion documents’ on the Living Standards Framework (see Further information below). Our response to these discussion papers focused on the Social Capital discussion paper, but also had implications for Human Capital and the Living Standards Framework in general.
The discussion papers were quite technical in nature, with economics terminology. To address the issues in the discussion papers, our contribution was equally technical. Our contribution needs to be read in conjunction with the Treasury discussion papers.
General feedback on the Living Standards Framework
The key points raised in our contribution of broader relevance to the Living Standards Framework and Human Capital are as follows:
- There are four primary social indicators driving wellbeing. We highlight the work of Stats NZ that has shown there are four primary indicators driving wellbeing in New Zealand. We do not believe any of these indicators are currently proposed in the Living Standards Framework.
- Social connection is important to public policy. We highlight twelve important public policy issues that are associated with social connection. As a consequence, we believe social connectedness indicators need to be in the Living Standards Framework.
- Social health is a cause of physical and mental health. We provide extensive references on this causal relationship, which is relevant to the relationship between Human Capital and Social Capital.
Why is this contribution important?
The draft Living Standards Framework, which is a wellbeing framework, does not include any social connectedness indicators, and does not propose to monetise any Social Capital indicators. The result of this draft is that Government policy will be unable to capture the benefits of social connectedness and costs of social disconnectedness (e.g. social isolation of the elderly). Further, the draft Living Standards Framework – if left unchanged – would imply that the Government has little interest in individual social wellbeing.