by Holly Overton
Sheffield is struggling with high young unemployment, a lack of business investment and unacceptably poor air quality, according to a new report.
The fifth annual State of Sheffield report, released today, highlighted the areas for concern but also boasted improved education, economic growth and was optimistic about the new extra powers an elected regional mayor would bring.
One of the report’s main concerns was inequality. While Sheffield was praised for always taking the challenge of reducing divisions in society seriously, the report said inequality and poverty had grown. This was highlighted by the significant increase in foodbanks.
The report is commissioned every year by the Sheffield Executive Board, which comprises leaders from the city’s private, public, voluntary, community and faith sectors. It looks at publicly available data to provide an assessment of trends over the last five years and more, and what these mean for the city.
Launching this year’s report, incoming chairman David Blunkett said: “We are in the throes of eye-watering austerity and we need to mobilise good will in Sheffield, and to find new ways of commissioning and delivering services.”
Sheffield continues to grow as a city with 563,700 people living here in 2014. But with this growth comes many challenges, such as meeting the increasing demands of a growing population with regards to housing, health and education, against a background of significant cuts in public spending.
Meanwhile, the establishment of the Sheffield City Region has given the area greater power to tackle economic and infrastructure issues, and the election of a Sheffield City Region mayor will further develop that power.
Sharon Squires, director of Sheffield First Partnership said: “The city and city region are at the forefront of change, driving devolution and establishing a new combined authority”
“We are therefore well positioned to work together to accelerate progress and address inequality.”
Findings in the report
Sheffield has a better performance on employment than most other major UK cities, with increasing jobs and apprenticeships, but wages remain low relative to national averages.
Youth unemployment remains a challenge, with the June 2015 rate of 24.3% above the national average and the highest of all core cities, driven by high female youth unemployment.
Sheffield and its City Region are making big strides in developing skills through apprenticeships, and there is evidence that young people in this region are better prepared for work than elsewhere.
Sheffield children are making progress in Early Years, Key Stage 2 and GCSE attainment. However, gaps to the national average still exist, though in some cases these are starting to close.
More Sheffield young people from all parts of the city are gaining a place at a university, and the job market for new graduates in Sheffield is better than it has been since 2007.
Life expectancy has improved for Sheffield residents, and the gap between male (78.8 years) and female (82.4 years) figures has narrowed to 3.5 years.
Healthy life expectancy has also improved for men to 61 years, but has fallen for women from 61 years in 2009-11 to 59 years in 2011-13.
There are increasing mental and emotional health needs in young people and women in Sheffield, matching national trends and linked strongly with deprivation and health inequality.
The report is available at www.sheffieldfirst.com.