Pressure for a fairer, greener, juster recovery increases

Pressure is growing for an economic and social recovery that is fairer, more just, and greener. A recent YouGov poll reported in The Guardian indicates that just 6% of the public want to return to an unchanged ‘pre-pandemic’ economy.

A recent letter to the government from the Build Back Better UK Campaign calling for a more equitable recovery was signed by more than 350 people including trade union leaders, heads of corporations, civil society, religious leaders, major charities, cultural and arts institutions, and environmental and climate change groups. Keeping abreast of what these various groups, campaigns and commentators are saying is hard work, however.

I’m still reading the TUC report A Better Recovery, published in May. It’s the most far-reaching and detailed of the documents I have so far tried to read. I thought it might be worth recapping some of its key recommendations here because I find that when someone says, ‘So what should be in a fairer recovery plan, then? my mind goes blank. This may help. Here’s what the TUC says in its key recommendations:

Decent work and a new way of doing business

  • Raising the national minimum wage to £10 an hour.
  • A ban on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment.
  • Ensuring all workers are automatically put into an occupational pension scheme.
  • Boost collective bargaining, including union access to workplaces.
  • Increase workforce voice in corporate governance and reform of corporate purpose.
  • Establish a National Recovery Council, mirrored at regional and sectoral level, with workforce representation.


Sustainable industry

  • A recovery programme that delivers benefits both in terms of reducing carbon and increasing jobs, overseen by a new Just Transition commission.
  • Work with trade unions to ensure that every investment programme comes with an Olympics style plan for decent jobs attached.
  • Support workers to get into new jobs, with a new jobs guarantee and an individual right to retrain.
  • Build UK manufacturing supply chains by increasing the requirement for UK content in any investment programme.
  • Put a Just Transition at the heart of the (UN Climate Conference) COP26.
  • Ensure that trade deals don’t undermine UK manufacturing.


A real safety net

  • Reforms to social security to provide help faster and prevent poverty.
  • A job guarantee scheme so everyone can work and long-term unemployment does not take hold.


Rebuilding public services

  • Bringing our public services back to full strength, with decent pay for those who looked after us in the crisis.
  • A new focus on good jobs and direct employment in social care.
  • Public sector pay-rise.
  • A new settlement for social care.
  • A democratically accountable, integrated health and social care system.
  • A new care sector workforce strategy.
  • A new funding settlement for local government, the NHS and across public services.
  • End the outsourcing of public services.


Equality at work

  • A cross-departmental action plan to tackle the entrenched disadvantage and discrimination faced by BME people.
  • Strengthen the role of the Race Disparity Unit and equip it to deliver the action plan.
  • Review and redraft the Gender Equality Roadmap to reflect the current context and include a clear timetable for delivery.
  • Engage with disabled people’s organisations and with people with disabilities to ensure that their voice and experiences are central.
  • Access to Work grants to take account of the current context.
  • Examine the implications of the increase in home working for disabled workers and improve disabled people’s access to work.
  • Close the disability employment and pay gaps.
  • Address the systemic inequality that disabled people experience in the labour market.
  • Ensure compliance with the public sector equality duty throughout response to Covid-19.


Rebuilding internationalism

  • New international rules to prioritise decent jobs and public services for all.
  • International institutions must be reformed so that they work towards a new social contract.


At the moment this groundswell of public opinion sounds unstoppable but unless there are meaningful ways for local, regional and national recovery plans to be influenced by wider society, there is no guarantee that this will be the case. And so far, real routes into recovery planning seem few and far between.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS:  Better Recovery: Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy (TUC, May 2020)

FULL REPORT: A Better Recovery: Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy (TUC, May 2020)

Build Back Better UK and its key demands

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Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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