At the beginning of the year, I wrote that we should all seek to Thrive, and, oh boy has that been challenging at times. But, the Government has done all it can to make it more challenging in a futile pursuit of Growth.
The Mini-Budget has all but gone now, and later this month I predict it will be erased from history apart from one tragic achievement. It cost us as a nation £65 billion to prop up the pound and protect the pensions market in the wake of the “Mini-Budget”! That one moment of political irresponsibility by former Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor has set our country’s economy back years!
If we are to see our economy improve, and for us to have the quality of life and enjoyment that we all aspire to, we need to stop chasing growth. Growth is impossible to achieve sustainably, without us thriving on every level as a nation.
Let’s look at the definition of thrive:
“To thrive is to grow and develop strongly.
This sense of the word can be applied to people as well as other living things, including animals and plants.
Thrive can also mean to be successful, to be fulfilled, or to develop successfully.
Both senses of thrive are often discussed alongside the specific conditions, environment, or situation that allow or help someone or something to thrive. For example, babies thrive in loving homes with the proper nutrition and care. Wild animals tend to thrive when their natural habitat is preserved. Plants thrive when they receive the right amount of sunlight and water. A person might begin to thrive in their career when they work at a place where their talents are appreciated and they’re given the freedom to try new things.
The adjective thriving can be used to describe someone or something that is developing successfully or that is being successful.”
The challenges we now face are monumental, the pay disparity between the public and private sectors has widened, thanks to low-interest rates enabling controlled wage growth in the public sector. This has now exposed public sector workers to extreme rises in the costs of living and left the Government unable to respond to fair pay demands to meet the costs pressure.
It can only be right that people working in the NHS, Ambulance, Police, local authorities and Fire Services are rewarded fairly, including via terms and conditions that compensate for the lower salaries. However, one trend that does have to end, is the one where “Managers” in public sector bodies have seen their salaries increase dramatically compared to those in the private sector. As a business owner myself, the pressures of rewarding and investing in our staff, junior staff in particular, during a cost of living crisis, means my short-term self-interests have had to be put on ice, and it is this approach that should now be part of government thinking. The days of gold-plated pensions ended a long time ago and senior officer pay in the public sector must now be frozen.
In the private sector, young professionals may earn slightly better salaries than those in the public sector but the costs of living and student loan repayments soon reduce their disposable income. In the construction and manufacturing sectors particularly, the cost of materials has rocketed and supply chains have been disrupted. Throw in the recent “Great Resignation” of more experienced colleagues post-Covid and wage rises which put profit margins across the sectors under huge pressure. So here, the private sector also has the same decisions to make on pay and conditions. We all have to play our roles or lose the opportunities of the future.
After the brief central government madness, we do need stability in our lives but then we need our government to start looking properly at the choices and make those hard decisions that we know are needed.
In making those decisions, I believe they need to be asking one simple question against every expenditure line – ‘’How does this spending help us thrive as a nation?’’ Because if it won’t then cut it and use the money to reduce the debt or finance something that will!
We need the very best in all our public sector services, they need to be world-beating and thriving and the staff need to feel life is rewarding on all levels, without that we will struggle to achieve the quality of life we all desire.
As an example, although obvious, education is essential to our Nation thriving in the future. Our children are the future and without them, we may as well pack up now. We need the best education system, playing to all skills and talents, not just expensive universities but colleges for trade skills and vocational talents too that enrich and skill up our future workforce.
In the short term, the options will feel limited but every opportunity to make a change needs to be explored, some of those may be:
How can we redesign our tax system to become part of the solution?
My point is this, if the Government and the wider public sector, working alongside the private sector, can transform the way we think and then adapt how we work, this will enable all of us to thrive in our chosen careers. It will allow us to support those in education and for those facing retirement, we should create a system that encourages them to continue to contribute if they so wish. Combined, all of this will allow this country to surpass all known growth targets by focusing on how we thrive in the coming years…
It’s a tall order, some will say it’s a fantasy as was Marxism in its day. Others will say this is not Conservativism, and others, it’s not Socialist. All I can say is it’s not driven by any political beliefs beyond seeking a solution from the economic realities we face that is sustainable and can make life for us all better than it is today.
Good employers who have empowered their employees have seen the benefits. Schools, where pupils achieve outstanding academic success, are often led by outstanding head teachers who have the vision to create a place where their students can enjoy learning and thrive. We need all sectors to strive to achieve the same outcomes.
As the dictionary says “babies thrive in loving homes with the proper nutrition and care.” Well, don’t we all? We have to revisit all our previous mantras and keep asking, what can we do to make it possible for us all to thrive? As we start to make the changes we will see the changes bear fruit and this will encourage more change, which will speed up our transformation into the thriving country that we all want.
So Prime Minister, let’s look to build a thriving economy and make our lives so much more rewarding at the same time!