Workshop: Good Work

Problem Diagnosis and Framing – ‘Good Work or Any Work?’

1 July 2020

6 minute read

Key Learning

Problem Diagnosis and Framing – ‘Good Work or Any Work?’

  • Prior to Covid-19, ‘good work’ was a priority for IGN members: features prominently in inclusive growth strategies. Positive progress had been made with evidence base development and delivery in many areas before the pandemic hit.
  • Business engagement has been impacted by the pandemic but there is a genuine interest from business in the need to ‘build back better’; this should be capitalised upon. The challenge is moving into this space from the current survival mode, but commitment to good work should be maintained in recovery strategies. National level conditionality for support has not been imposed but could local areas develop their own quid pro quo?
  • Reach and influence across business base was a challenge prior to the pandemic and gaps in reach have been further exposed during crisis. Often a small core of companies engaging in ‘good work’ programmes and a slightly larger group that access business support (e.g. Growth Hubs). Many members have focused efforts on specific sectors, e.g. care sector.
  • Tension for policymakers emerging as unemployment rises due to Covid-19 - is any job better than no job? The pandemic has presented challenges for businesses of all types and sizes, including cashflow, viability and returning to work safely. But good work should not be framed as contrary to these concerns.
  • Key concerns for policymakers include the risk of this new context driving down standards in certain sectors, the impact on seasonal sectors and the impact of a new wave of unemployment on support for those who have been long-term unemployed and may need more support.

Building Good Work into Covid-19 Recovery Plans – Key Narratives:

  • More good jobs will be key to tackling in-work poverty
  • Focusing on good work responds to the role low-paid workers have played during this crisis
  • Highlighting the significant evidence between good work and good physical and mental health
  • Investing in quality work could be key to tackling the UK’s productivity problem – a return to the low skill, low productivity cycle is not desirable. The intersection between good work, productivity and public health is key
  • Good jobs should cost less in the long run: lower social security bill, higher tax intake
  • Creating jobs which we know are worth investing in because they will be needed into the future
  • Covid-19 has seen greater appetite for state intervention – does this pave the way for an exchange between business and the state where business support is provided in return for good work?

There is much to learn from other approaches to Good Employment Charters. Members are developing charters can use this time to secure more ‘early adopters’, consider working lives post-Covid and ensure safe working environments. Tiered structure to charters is one approach to addressing reach. Consider impact of multiple charters on business – alignment is helpful. Ensure they have visible local political leadership

Recovery plans are a key way to highlight public health rationale for good work alongside productivity. Framing around good work, productivity and public health an opportunity to make transformational case for change. IGN members are incorporating the strong link between health and work into recovery plans but also good work charters, business support and mental health at work schemes.

Futureproofing is another option for reframed good work policies and the ambition to ‘build back better’: creating jobs which we know are worth investing in because they will be needed into the future. Local areas should be looking at destination jobs which provide good work and trying to boost these further. CPP have advocated for individual skills matching models to be scaled up to the level of local economies, with local leaders using training to guide their economies from ‘origin sectors’ to ‘destination sectors’.

Social value through procurement remains a key local lever to securing good work in the long-term. Activity on this includes embedding good work pledges/charters into procurement processes and influencing wider anchor institution procurement to secure good work and broader inclusive growth outcomes.

Other levers to bring in good work in local places include:

  • Use of section 106/CIL to secure good work, e.g. provision of quality apprenticeships
  • Equity stakes in business and investment frameworks
  • Living wage accreditation – built into procurement processes and subject of wider
  • Local campaigns
  • Targeted work with sectors e.g. focused activity to support in-work progression in the care sector



  • Presentation from Rosie Stock-Jones, Senior Research Analyst at CPP [link]
  • Presentation from Morgan Bestwick, Policy Officer at JRF [link]