Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The eighth Sustainable Development Goal aims to improve living standards through the creation of decent work and the cultivation of sustainable economic growth.

Why is sustainable economic growth important?

Most importantly, working towards decent work and long-term economic growth will support the financial situation necessary to invest in national infrastructure. Infrastructure refers to the basic systems and services within a country. This includes water systems, electrical systems, communication systems, transport, and buildings. Investment in infrastructure supports the improvement of social and health care institutions for a community. Such changes will improve global living standards and ensure that poverty, characterised by hunger, disease and impoverishment, becomes significantly reduced.  

 Goal eight reflects the aims that economic growth can be achieved through job creation and market diversification. The targets within goal eight are working to promote policies that support development and productive activities that will aid in job creation. Further targets aim to achieve universal access to banking and financial services that will support entrepreneurs and the growth of micro-, small and medium sized enterprises. 

What is the importance of decent work? 

Sustainable economic growth cannot be achieved without a safe and healthy workforce and this is where the significance of decent work comes in.  Targets within this goal aim to end forced labour and slavery world wide. Goal eight focuses on the importance of labour rights and the creation of safe and secure places of work. Decent work is also unattainable to those that lack the relevant skills to enter the workforce. Goal 8 aims to work towards the goal of full employment by creating opportunities for all people to gain the skills that can provide them with long-term fulfilling employment.  

Economic growth and decent work are two sides of the same coin. Decent work cannot be achieved without the job opportunities that opportunities for innovation and investment into infrastructure create. At the same time, long-term economic growth cannot be carried out without a healthy workforce.  

How has Coronavirus affected this goal? :

  • Guidance to stay at home, with the aim of safeguarding public health, has meant that less money is being put into the economy. 
  • A reduction in trade has resulted in many companies having to furlough their staff. This means that the government has stepped in to pay their wages where the company has been unable to in order to keep future employment a possibility. 
  • The impact of Coronavirus on some businesses has prompted innovation to keep their business alive and ensure their brand remains relevant. 
  • Businesses such as Rolls Royce, that are unable to innovate and adapt to the current economic climate, are losing money because customers have less money to buy their products. This has led to job loss and an increase in unemployment rates. 
  • Smaller businesses that lack the money to innovate also face the threat of insolvency because few customers are able to buy their products. 
  • Ensuring that measures are in place to protect staff against Coronavirus in the workplace has become a central issue as companies begin to reopen and staff begin to return. 

How can you make a difference right now? :

  • Buy goods from local businesses to support economic growth and job security within your local communities (especially where businesses have a narrow product range and are less able to adapt their services). 
  • Ensure you are aware of your rights within your workplace and that you understand and abide by policies that have been put in place to ensure your safety. 
  • Contribute to the protection of workers in frontline positions by making PPE at home that meets the standards put forward by the government. 
  • Make sure you are a conscientious consumer by purchasing goods that have been sustainably produced. 
  • Support educational opportunities for young people in all capacities to ensure that, while at home, they can continue to develop the skills that will make them employable in the future.

Small to Medium-sized Enterprise: The Backbone of Many Economies

Written by Spencer Murphy, founder of The Lending Front.

The beauty of small to medium-sized enterprises (or SME) is their simplicity and drive. The basic aim of an SME is to provide an income source for the individual and their family. Many small businesses are based on a simple idea or passion, which can be used to provide for their community. They hire local staff, buy local supplies and benefit their local community. They are not just there to please shareholders and maximise profit.

ECONOMY

SMEs tend to employ locally, increasing the local economy by providing a steady salary, which could then be spent at local businesses. Secondly, independent businesses will commonly purchase their equipment from local suppliers. This keeps the local economy ticking, while decreasing environmental costs from logistics. SMEs can only grow within their own means — they are driven by their own profit, which allows them to have sustained growth after a long period of time.

CREATING COMMUNITY

Every high street has its own character and charm driven by the local businesses surrounding it. Whether it be the traditional family-owned pub or local garage, they define their local area and create the community identity. With many employing multiple generations from multiple families, these businesses create common ground on which people can reminisce. They can also be a great source of pride. Think about ‘Barbour’ – originally a family run business from Newcastle, now worldwide. These businesses can also inspire locals to set up their own businesses, seeing people from the same background create extremely successful organisations.

EMPLOYEES

When working for an SME, employees can pick up more skills as they are exposed to more aspects of the business, due to the company size. In corporations you are divided into specific departments working on specific tasks. For small independents, this isn’t possible as there are too many tasks per staff member. This isn’t to say that if you are working for an SME in human resources you are then going to be on the phones selling, but it does mean you will have more tasks within the human resources department.

These employees will then develop a lot more skills that are transferable to multiple jobs, and will benefit them hugely in their future career. SMEs give employees a sense of identity and purpose in their work. They will be part of a company that may want to grow. This allows employees to feel they are part of something and to look back on their career knowing “they were there” as the business grew.

As SMEs grow, they will need to promote people to new roles. This process will more than likely occur from within. This allows for quick career progression for many, and allows staff to gain more responsibility along with a higher paycheck.

TRUST

With a small business, you can build a relationship with it and all its employees. You trust them — especially for a service you’re not an expert in. For example, if you are a mechanical novice and need your car fixed, you go to people you trust. Local businesses can be highly beneficial to communities that require a certain expertise service, run by people that can be relied on again and again.

How are we supporting local business?

The Lending Front was set up in order to provide information about unsecured loans and lending. Previously, I worked for an alternative lender and believe a lot of my customers didn’t fully understand what they were signing up for, so I wanted to provide a place where independent businesses could gain confidence and knowledge to understand business Financials.

This is particularly important during the coronavirus crisis, as many businesses are suffering financially and will be searching for other financial options to keep afloat. We have articles detailing the various financial options from the Government and how you can access this funding, as well as other methods of getting finance.

 The website has ‘how to guides’ and information about the basics of finance, with a contact form if you as a business need help finding funding options. We also have short video explanations on our YouTube channel

 We wanted to provide a website to help all understand the complexities of finance, but given in a simple, unbiased, easily digestible format. We, at The Lending Front, believe that supporting local business is incredibly important, not only during Corona Virus lockdown but for the future.

 For more information, check out our website

The Lending Front is helping to achieve:

High Wycombe Mutual Aid

Before Covid-19, many UK citizens may not have felt that human rights and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development were especially relevant to their daily lives.

The effects of coronavirus sweeping the globe, however, have impacted our lives so severely that many of the human rights we took for granted are now restricted. The combined effects of lockdown and Covid-19 also have a disproportionate impact on certain demographics, meaning that many people in our communities are far more vulnerable and at higher risk than others. Recent reports from Public Health England and University College London reveal that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are two to three times more likely to die from Covid-19, and are dying disproportionately from the virus.

Though we may not initially recognise the effects of coronavirus on our lives as a human rights issue, lockdown and self-isolating has curtailed our right to freedom of movement to the extent that until very recently, only exercise and essential journeys for supplies were allowed under lockdown guidelines. Those in our communities who are forced to self-isolate entirely, due to underlying health conditions or age, have been left with no freedom of movement at all, having to stay within their own properties for weeks on end to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.

This lack of free movement then has a knock-on effect on other human rights we might have otherwise taken for granted. Access to healthcare has become increasingly difficult, with only essential appointments going ahead in person and most other enquiries now being taken over the phone. What used to be a simple process of picking up your prescription at your local pharmacy is now impossible for those with underlying health conditions, who in turn are more likely to suffer from a lack of access to vital medication. 

Our mutual aid group, High Wycombe Mutual Aid, aims to make sure no one in our community is left isolated or without support. The three main services we offer are:

  • Picking up your prescriptions
  • Doing your shopping for you
  • Having a regular chat on the phone

Though volunteers cannot restore someone’s freedom of movement for them under the current circumstances, they can support them through the lockdown by ensuring they are still able to secure the supplies they need. 

Picking up prescriptions for someone who cannot get them in person ensures they can still access the healthcare they need, and delivering food shopping for a neighbour means they can eat well and maintain a degree of choice over what foods they would like. 

Our third service of regular phone chats is no less important. Coronavirus has made the UK’s epidemic of loneliness even worse, isolating people from their friends and loved ones, and leaving those without these connections even more isolated. A regular phone call with someone alone can go a long way to stopping their well-being from plummeting, and gives them a friendly contact with whom they can share their experiences of lockdown. 

Mutual Aid is not a charity per se, and we therefore refer people to pre-existing local food banks and health organisations if we cannot offer them the specific type of support they need. Our group is made up entirely of volunteers, most of whom have never met in person, who are using their time under lockdown to support their neighbours. Like thousands of other mutual aid organisations in the UK, our efforts are directed towards alleviating the effects of coronavirus lockdown, and consequently we are also, albeit often unwittingly, safeguarding our fellow citizens’ human rights. 

For more information about High Wycombe Mutual Aid and to find out how to get involved in your area see:

High Wycombe Mutual Aid

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK

Mutual aid groups are helping to achieve:

Icon for the first sustainable development goal no poverty
Icon for the second sustainable development goal zero hunger
Icon for the third sustainable development goal good health and well-being

Written by Amy Gee, volunteer coordinator and communications lead for High Wycombe Mutual Aid.