Build Back Better: New Economics Thinking

A small group of Central England Quakers recently explored the Build Back Better campaign, with a focus on New Economics thinking. Members of CEQ Climate Emergency Action (CEA) joined a workshop led by Peace Hub coordinator Pete Doubtfire to look at the ‘House that Hayek Built’.

Build Back Better (BBB) is a national campaign aiming to use our recovery from the pandemic as an opportunity to make some of the positive social changes we want to see. So far the government has adopted the words, but not the principles. Quakers in Britain is a steering group member, and Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) have been supporting Friends to learn about the campaign and get involved.

Following on from an introduction to BBB by QPSW’s Rebecca Woo, this workshop looked at a tool created by another BBB steering group member New Economics Foundation (NEF). The House that Hayek Built is a tool to consider the structures of power that uphold our current system (named after the economist Friedrich Hayek). Pete gives an overview of the current system in the video below:

Having considered the current system, this tool is helpful for thinking about what an alternative system might look like. As a movement we aim to transform the system at all levels, but as individuals and small groups it can be helpful to focus our energies on a particular level that matches our interests and skills. Often our attention is drawn to the upper levels, so there is much scope for new work focussing on building alternative values, principles and pillars of power.

CEQ CEA members spent time in small groups thinking about the alternative system that we would like to see, with a particular focus on the foundations. This exercise is intended as a starting point rather than an attempt to develop a comprehensive vision. Nevertheless, there were many shared ideas, and together a useful ‘first draft’ of a new system was drawn up, which you can see below:

Interests: All citizens / good of all / planet / preserving life
Values: Cooperation / common good / justice / equality
Principles: Golden rule / democracy / community / education / sustainability / social justice
Pillars of Power: Citizens / people's assemblies / community / health care / social care / restorative justice / non-partisan government / cooperatives / green finance
Narrative: Look after one another / benefits of community / quality of life for all
Priorities: Carbon costing / regulation / universal basic services / universal basic income
Outcomes: Sustainable world for all

The next stage is to consider what areas we might want to focus on, either as a group or as individuals. If you would like to be involved in future CEQ CEA activities, email

If you’d like to run this activity with your own Quaker Meeting or other group, drop an email to . You can download a copy of the House that Hayek Built, including a blank version to fill in from NEF’s New Economy Organisers Network.