This is the latest edition of Gordon MacIntyre-Kemps' Reinventing Scotland newsletter, all about the wellbeing economy. To receive it free to your inbox every week, sign up here.

Who will the wellbeing economy work for?

When we talk about the transition to the wellbeing economics approach, many worry it will require a major upheaval – a significant restructuring of the economic system – but in reality it is a shift in the way we measure success, rather than in how we structure the economy and the mechanisms that underpin it.

If it's a revolution, then it's a revolution in the meaning and purpose of the economy.

An economy for the people

Creating an economy with a focus on working for the people and the planet – an economy that isn’t blinded by the “successes” of big corporates and offers a greater voice to smaller businesses – must be the goal.

When we talk about the business community, it isn't one homogeneous group of people who all think the same about economics or politics, regardless of what the mainstream media might want you to think.

Large corporations are not the real business community

Entrepreneurial, small and family businesses make up the bulk of Scotland’s business community and they see the world very differently from the senior managers of the large PLCs.

Yet the opinions of the backbone of Scotland's economy are not really represented in the news anywhere near as often as the larger London-based, often tax-dodging, large corporations.

The National: The City of LondonThe City of London

The wellbeing economic approach is about creating an economy that works for all of Scotland, not just the self-labelled elite of business and finance. It's about environmentally sustainable growth while encouraging entrepreneurialism.

Wellbeing is less about changing the structures of the economy and more about adjusting the philosophy that guides our actions and government policy approaches to industry, which must be far more open and discussion-based than any past government has been.

In that, I include past SNP-led governments that felt regular meetings with the now-disgraced Confederation of British Industry (CBI) meant they had ticked the business engagement box.

The wellbeing economy consumer

We haven't yet discussed the impact of the transition to a wellbeing economy on individuals as consumers. Given 75% of the economy is based on consumer spending, how will consumers have to change their behaviour not to undermine the wellbeing transition?

This could be an issue, because with the Real Living Wage becoming universal, retired consumers getting the wellbeing pension and sustainable economic growth being secured, there will be more money in people's pockets.

This is an issue because our current patterns of consumption and spending versus borrowing and investment (or lack of) in our own wellbeing is unsuitable for both the planet and society.

The ideal consumer in our current economy – call it neoliberal, global or consumer capitalism – is one who wants to consume unsustainably both in terms of their personal finances and the environment. They want to consume before they can afford to and so go into unsustainable levels of debt, often to buy things they really don't need and sometimes won’t even use.

Their behaviour is led by a wish to be seen as wealthier than they are, to wear labels or be seen driving a car that projects their self-image to the world. So much of this spending is based on credit, and a substantial part of the economy is based on the interest which makes that consumption more expensive than it should be.

The ideal consumer in a wellbeing economy simply does not consume to excess, and doesn't go into debt to purchase goods that project false self-image – but seeks goods that provide utility. They definitely consume less meat – red meat in particular – and buy clothing that lasts rather than just looks good according to this week's fashion.

The National:

I admit it’s a big ask … but it's as much a cultural change as anything else and I think it's already happening. People are baulking, more and more, at extreme shows of wealth. When will we reach the tipping point? I don’t know.

Our role as consumers in a wellbeing economy is to shop sustainably, save money and improve our own health and wellbeing. Is that too much to ask? Well, if consumer demand continues to pull the economy towards unsustainable production, it will slow progress towards achieving national wellbeing.

Breaking the personal debt trap

We need a cultural change whereby the majority look at excess demonstrations of wealth and grimace, rather than think “wow, I want that”. We need people to use the higher wages and better pensions and benefits of a wellbeing society to get rid of personal debt and to consume more sustainably – within their means.

Standard economic thinking states that people don’t take on more personal debt than they can afford, so they claim it doesn't impact on the economy. Well, people do, and it does impact on the economy. High levels of personal debt interest gifts an unnecessary and undeserved percentage of the economy to big finance and that takes away from the real economy – those SMEs forming the backbone of Scotland’s wealth as a nation.

Personal debt is also a major cause of stress and worry impacting mental and longer-term physical health, work performance and personal relationships. Ironically, the current consumer culture can lead those suffering to seek short-term endorphin hits from retail-therapy, which, in the long term, just makes things worse.

Standard consumption practices are what makes the economy debt-led and makes the economy work for the finance sector and big corporations rather than for the people. Whose economy is it anyway?

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the CEO of Business for Scotland, the chief economist at the "wellbeing economics" think tank Scotianomics, the founder of the Believe in Scotland campaign and the author of Scotland the Brief.