I had the honour of addressing IPPR North Conference as keynote speaker last week where I urged policy makers and politicians to come together and build an economy around three key principles. Good jobs, good businesses and good public services.
In the 150-year history of the TUC we have almost taken it for granted but I think it is worth repeating that good jobs are the key to lifting people out of poverty and giving them a ladder to get on in life.
I am not naive to the challenges posed by this, but I believe with new devolved powers combined authorities and local councils have a chance to begin setting a new progressive agenda to improve the lives of working families.
The bedrock of the new agenda starts in our workplaces, this year with work from Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Cllr Joyce McCarthy the North of Tyne Combined Authority have consulted on a ‘Good Work Pledge’ which I hope will encourage employers to meet several of the key recommendations of the TUC’s Great Jobs Agenda, Including:
A guarantee of regular hours
A guarantee of a decent wage, ideally a living wage
And opportunities to get on in life with funding for education and skills at work
With our cities growing and economic pressures being faced by towns and rural areas in the North East now is the time to look at how we can maximise devolved revenue streams to borrow for infrastructure projects that create good quality jobs, boost productivity and help struggling commuters get from their front door to the office door.
The state currently spends £284 Billion on procurement of goods and services. We could better spend this money by ‘buying local’ in our towns and suburbs reducing the green footprint of the average commute by creating jobs closer to workers homes.
In Teesside for instance Technology start-ups recently identified access to finance as a key factor limiting their growth.
Targeted procurement policy could kill two birds with one stone and help give small businesses the vital funding they need to grow alongside providing jobs and additional business rates to fund vital local public services.
Ultimately reshaping the North East economy will not be possible without well-funded, high quality public services. The region faces a crisis in the coming years with the cost of looking after vulnerable children and elderly people outstripping the ability of local government to raise money from taxes to pay for it.
Trade Unions are a willing partner in finding solutions to these problems we play a major role in the present-day reality of thousands of workers and their families in the region. So, take a moment and join us, engage with us, work with us.
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