Headlines: November 24th, 1998

Policy-makers across the public sector will be asked to test future decisions against their likely impact on the Government’s new ‘quality of life’ barometer.The ‘Sustainability Counts’ indicators cover everyday factors that impact on life, such as health, jobs, air quality, and traffic. Controversially, there is no reference for poverty or crime in the consultative list just published.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: “We are committed to a new way of thinking – one which puts environmental, social and economic concerns alongside each other at the heart of decision making.

“We hope that the indicators will help Government, business, local government and individuals to do their bit to help make ‘clean growth’ a reality. We will publish each ‘quality of life’ indicator as they become available throughout the year.”

During a BBC interview he said he wanted the new indicators to carry as much precedence on news bulletins as updates on GDP, inflation and employment figures.

In brief, the proposed indicators cover economic growth, social investment – on infrastructure like hospitals and railways, employment figures, life expectancy figures, attainment of educational qualifications at age 19, numbers of homes judged unfit to live in, numbers of homes built on previously developed land, emissions of greenhouse gases, days of air pollution, traffic levels, water quality, variety of wildlife, and volumes of waste production.

Responses to ‘Sustainability Counts’ are requested by 29 January 1999. The paper is available on the Internet at: www.environment.detr.gov.uk/sustainable/consult/index.htm