Sheffield is getting back on its feet after one of the harshest recessions for decades, writes Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
This morning, as the latest round of employment figures are published, I want to thank Star readers for pulling out all the stops to get our local economy moving again.
It hasn’t been easy. But I am proud of what’s been achieved over the lifetime of this coalition – across the UK, two million jobs created in the private sector and nearly half a million fewer people are unemployed.
In Sheffield this has meant unemployment is down by over 9,000 since 2010, and nearly 25,000 more people are in work.
This is largely down to the hard work and entrepreneurship of you: the people, workers, businessmen and women of Sheffield. The manufacturing sector here is incredibly strong,for example, with 4,000 businesses in the sector employing over 95,000 people and contributing £3.5 billion to the national economy.
To support the thriving industries of Sheffield, there have been a number things the Liberal Democrats have done in this coalition. We are balancing the books and reducing the deficit which has kept interest rates low and created the right conditions for businesses to thrive. We have also reduced the basic tax rate so every worker takes home more. In July, I announced the Sheffield City Region Growth Deal. Its purpose is simple: to give Sheffield the tools you need to prosper.
The deal brings to the region nearly £300 million for much-needed road improvements and an innovative new “skills bank” to help people take advantage of opportunities as the economy comes off life support.
Rather than the ‘one size fits all’ approach, which has seen some parts of the country left behind, now every city has the freedom to set its own priorities and manage its own budgets.
The Regional Growth Fund has granted £3 billion to businesses who need extra funding to create a new project, or a new building, or land a new contract that will allow them to employ more local people. But the north needs and deserves more.
That’s why I have been running the Northern Futures project. I’m asking northerners – including Star readers – to join a conversation about how we get a better deal and create an economic hub to rival the most prosperous areas in the world.
We’ve had some great ideas, and I’m looking forward to the Northern Futures Summit in Leeds in November.
I expect the debate to be passionate. At the end we will have a plan we have devised together - me, you, businesses and experts, to boost our great northern cities.
It’s not too late to have your say, visit http://northernfutures.dialogue-app.com to submit your idea or comment on suggestions.
Tomorrow, I will take the Government’s Local Growth Cabinet Committee, of which I am the chairman, to the North West – the first time it has ever met outside of London. I hope one day to bring the meeting to Sheffield.
We will be discussing some of the issues facing cities of the north, and the next steps the Government might take. Of course, everything I say will be informed by what people are telling me through Northern Futures.
What I am aiming for is a thriving Sheffield, formed in the image its residents want, taking advantage of its strengths as it ploughs into the future, leaving the financial crisis in its wake.