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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Abandon cuts in budget to promote happiness, MEP urges on International Day of Happiness

LONDON’S Green MEP Jean Lambert has urged George Osborne to use today’s budget to abandon cuts and austerity measures to promote happiness, health and mental well-being.

“All the research shows that promoting happiness and well-being is good for health and building stronger communities – yet here in the UK we’ve got a programme of welfare cuts and austerity measures that’s taking us in exactly the opposite direction,” said Ms Lambert.

She made her comments ahead of UN International Day of Happiness , which takes place today – March 20th . (1)

Ms Lambert will be marking the occasion at a reception hosted by the Brussels Embassy of Bhutan – the first nation in the world to attempt to measure, and constantly improve, the happiness of its citizens.

Bhutan assesses Gross National Happiness as well as the economic measure Gross Domestic Product.

As Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the South Asia, Ms Lambert visited the Himalayan country – and met the Prime Minister and its Gross National Happiness Commission – in 2011.

Ms Lambert said:

“We could learn a lot from Bhutan here in Europe – and especially here in London, where we work some of the longest hours, face some of the highest living costs and are some of the least happy people in the developed world.

“We need to measure happiness and well-being, and recognise that promoting it isn’t the same as promoting economic growth measured in monetary terms.  The Bhutanese concept is not simply a fluffy wish-list but  is based on a set of measures that look at issues in the round, including community, economy and longer-term implications.

“The Government has begun to measure UK citizens’ happiness – but promoting it remains far down its list of priorities.

“Indeed, Cameron, Osborne and Clegg appear to be doing exactly the opposite: most Londoners I speak to are concerned about benefit cuts, job security, workers’ rights and freedom of movement: these are all being eroded with every new announcement.”

“Only by abandoning cuts and austerity measures will the government really improve happiness levels here in London,” she added.