3,000 jobs on way in bid to hit target

John Mothersole
John Mothersole
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Comfortable, ambitious and unreal.

John Mothersole, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, says there are three kinds of target. And a plan to create 70,000 private sector jobs in the next decade falls into “ambitious.”

The “stretching” figure announced by the Local Enterprise Partnership last year raised a few eyebrows - especially since it was treble the number predicted by independent researchers.

But progress is being made.

Mr Mothersole said £31m of local Regional Growth Fund money has been allocated and contracts signed with the companies involved which pave the way for 3,000 new jobs.

The RGF is a national scheme to help business which comes with job creation targets. But the LEP negotiated a locally administered version that suited the region better.

“Through that one initiative we are just shy of five per cent of the target.

“The city region’s economy is heavily based on SMEs and we negotiated it to help them.

“It’s run by a small private sector panel who treat it as if it’s their own money. They will go and see a company and eyeball the business owner.

“SMEs are more adaptable to change. They helped Sheffield ride the recession.

“However, there are a lot of them and they take a lot of organising.

They often haven’t got the capacity to do a big financial funding application. We have helped with that.

“It’s rare, now we are a case study and a national exemplar, generating jobs for a third of the cost of the national programme.

“And through the Growth Deal we have another £50m for the scheme over the next six years.”

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last week signed a £300m deal for Sheffield City Region, the fifth biggest in England. It aims to create more than 28,000 jobs and pay for training for 40,000 people.

Mr Clegg said: “We are ending a culture of Whitehall knows best.”

The LEP is a business-led body which aims to improve economic performance.

All nine councils in its boundaries are members.