The North is enduring a severe job quality crisis. Record high employment figures conceal major deficiencies in the quality of work people are doing. And while every region of the country has seen an unprecedented squeeze on wages, real weekly pay has fallen by £21 since 2008 in the North – higher than the national average. Poor job quality and low pay has a profound effect on people in terms of in-work poverty, personal wellbeing and income inequality.

But many local authorities in the North are innovating to improve job quality in their area. Local authorities are major employers, they commission services from local businesses and charities, and they have considerable ‘soft power’ to influence a broader range of local organisations. Many local authorities in the North have used this power to implement ‘decent work’ policies that improve employment conditions.

This is often a difficult task, as there are legal and financial challenges that must be overcome. But some northern local authorities have found innovative ways through these obstacles – as have others across the country. This report aims to help other local authorities in the North and across the country by showing how this innovation can boost employment conditions in their areas.