Liberal Democrats unveil plans for wellbeing institute

The Liberal Democrats have proposed the creation of a “National Institute for Wellbeing” to gather evidence and promote best practice in improving quality of life – including encouraging employers to report on how they are providing good places to work.

A paper, A new purpose for politics: quality of life, was announced at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in September 2011.

It recommended that, by 2014, the 9,000 or so large organisations that together employ 50% of the UK workforce, should report on employee satisfaction and the extent to which they are offering flexible working.

The new National Institute for Wellbeing should, in turn, create a means of reporting this information in an accessible way so that it is actually used, the paper emphasised.

Intriguingly, the report from the Liberal Democrats called for the existing power to disqualify someone from being a company director for financial impropriety to be extended to serious failure to protect employees’ wellbeing.

“We believe it is anomalous that people can be disqualified from being a company director for reasons of financial impropriety, but not for even very serious cases of failing to protect their employees’ wellbeing. This should be made possible, for example, for serious breaches of their legal duties to staff as an employer,” it argued.

As well as seeking to help people back into employment, actions should also be taken to increase the wellbeing of those who are currently unemployed.

A “wellbeing index” should be created alongside the National Institute for Wellbeing to allow the public to compare the performance of large organisations and areas in which they are achieving high wellbeing scores.

Similarly, public health education should be refocused to include public wellbeing education, the Liberal Democrats argued.

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