Good work case study: Greater Manchester

Ravi Badat from Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Chris Smallwood from Anchor Removals explain what 'good work' means to them and what can be done to support it at a local level.


About Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester is a city region made up of ten councils, and home to more than 2.8 million people with an economy bigger than that of Wales or Northern Ireland. The region has 106,995 businesses, with a significantly high number in the foundational economy, which supplies every day essential goods and services, compared to the rest of the UK. Enterprises are concentrated in the sectors of construction, retail and professional, scientific and technical services as well as business administration & support services.

Interview with Ravi Badat, Economy Programme Lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

What does ‘good work’ mean to you?

The Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter sets out seven categories of good work. A key element for us is that it’s constantly in development to reflect the changing world of work. We push the boat out on what the best employment practice looks like under each of those categories. All aspects are important, but the Real Living Wage twin track approach is useful as it is something that can be more easily measured.

What can be done to support good work at a local level?

The Greater Manchester Charter has two tiers of commitment – Supporters (making a commitment) and Members (with a rigorous assessment). Currently there are around 400 Supporters and 50 Members, covering almost 300,000 workers. From 2023, all new Greater Manchester public service contracts will stipulate that the contractor must support the Charter, offer the Real Living Wage and make a commitment towards achieving net zero.

What are the main challenges and how can they be overcome?

There’s always going to be push back. There has been some resistance from business organisations who are concerned that the Charter may dictate to employers how they run their businesses. But we’ve got a growing army of super passionate leaders who can advocate on behalf of Greater Manchester. The structure of the Charter, having supporters and members, means that employers can engage and hear from others.

What is your top tip for local government?

Preparing people and making sure that you have the right people in the room with clear messages is critical. Working with the unions has also been key. There’s not any one reason why this has happened so quickly, however the Real Living Wage campaign has kicked everyone into gear.

Preparing people and making sure that you have the right people in the room with clear messages is critical.

Ravi Badat, Economy Programme Lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Interview with Chris Smallwood, CEO, Anchor Removals

Anchor Removals is a small business with 11 staff and growing. Chris owns 95 per cent of the business and took over in 2008

What does ‘good work’ mean to you?

For me, the employees and their families are the most important people – that understanding is the foundation of what good work is. Nothing is more important than providing workers with good wages, secure employment and a safe working environment. I used to struggle to understand what good employment looks like, The Good Employment Charter provides a really useful explanation that you can work with.

What can be done to support good work at a local level?

The small business sector is a major employer that needs educating about good work. Business support programmes can encourage them to think more about the impact they have on their workers and local communities. The important thing about a charter is that it is a clear indicator, for a business, of what good employment looks like. The key thing that local government can do is recognise and promote those businesses who are doing the right thing. What we crave is profile and recognition.

What are the main challenges and how can they be overcome?

There’s always a danger that employers focus on themselves without looking at the bigger picture. We are dealing with competitors who pay staff low wages and operate below the VAT threshold, offering a very low-cost service. The way we work around negativity and fear, is that there’s a business case. We don’t look at the bottom-line figure in isolation, we look at the money we’re going to save from engaged staff that stay with you.

What is your top tip for local businesses?

The thing that everyone has got to realise is that the Great British public believe in good working practices. As more and more people get sucked into the cost-of-living crisis, they’re suddenly realising ‘we’ve got a duty to make sure that we purchase ethically’. The Good Employment Charter is just one, very good example, of how that can be delivered.

Employees and their families are the most important people – that understanding is the foundation of what good work is.

Chris Smallwood, CEO Anchor Removals

About the Good Work Project

You can read more about the Good Work project – which aims to help councils support good work in the local areas – via the link below.

Good Work Project