Sheffield must co-operate both inwardly and with regional partners in order to grow in 2017, according to this year’s State of Sheffield report.
The annual analysis of the city’s strengths and weaknesses, released today, calls on Sheffield to embrace its ‘uniqueness’ in order to attract global business and boost its economy.
It highlights the need to tackle continuing inequality, improve education, and support both younger and older people.
While celebrating the success of The Outdoor City brand, the report sets a target of getting more people cycling and walking in Sheffield, and makes improving air quality a priority.
And it outlines a desire to get more people engaged in the city’s politics and democracy.
The report is drawn up by the Sheffield City Partnership Board, made up of leaders from the private, public, voluntary and community, faith and academic sectors.
Chairman Lord David Blunkett said Sheffield was the only UK city to conduct such an ‘authentic and objective analysis of itself’.
He added: “There is a lot to celebrate here, as well as clear areas to work on.
“But the great thing about this city is that it is endeavouring to avoid the danger of burying its head in the sand.
“Where there are issues, the Sheffield way is to tackle these head on.
“This report will inform policy makers and agencies throughout the city, as well as helping people that live, work, study and play in Sheffield to understand their city better.
“The lesson both past and present is that despite the enormity of the problems we face, it is possible to make real improvement if we work together.
“Not just joined up thinking but practical action to achieve change.”
The report covers six areas, which are summarised below:
Sheffield’s economy is once again described as ‘resilient’, as it was in 2016.
The report highlights growth in the advanced manufacturing sector, which has been a city priority for some time.
There is also growth in the creative and digital industries, which have ‘significant potential’ to bring good jobs to the city.
Sheffield is starting to embrace its unique selling points, such as the ‘City of Makers’ tag. And the city is exploring international links, evidenced by the council’s 60-year partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group.
The report suggests ‘uniqueness counts’ in a global economy, and Sheffield will benefit from shouting about the things that set it apart. The Outdoor City brand is an example of this.
But key for 2017, according to the report, is for Sheffield to work as one. An ‘inclusive growth strategy’ is due to be developed this year, linking with the Sheffield City Region.
“Crucially, to help deliver its economic potential, the city must come together to develop a vision for sustainable and equitable growth, which can deliver greater prosperity to more of Sheffield’s residents,” it says.
School results are improving in Sheffield, according to the report, with more than 92 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds now in full-time education, training or apprenticeships.
Although still a concern, inequality in education has narrowed, with ‘significant’ improvements in the results of pupils eligible for free school meals – although Sheffield is still below the national average.
The report says maximising opportunities for young people is key in 2017, to ‘equip those who may otherwise be left behind to participate fully in the city’s success’.
It points to the new Vulnerable Young People’s Service, which will work with people not in education, employment or training with the aim of reducing the risk of progression into crime, drug abuse and gang membership.
But the report says a new post-16 strategy is needed this year.
Older people in Sheffield have a ‘variable’ experience, and the city must ensure they are treated fairly.
They are also contributing to the economy in new ways, such as working for longer and taking care roles.
The report says Sheffield must ensure all residents have the opportunity for ‘healthy and happy lives’.
A key task for 2017 is to renew and redevelop the ‘City for All Ages’ framework that was first established in 2012, and take an ‘active ageing’ approach.
Fair and Just City
Sheffield people are living in ‘challenging’ times and many deal with inequality and uncertainty daily, the report says, with too many children growing up in poverty.
The report points to the ‘Our Fair City’ campaign as an example of people working to tackle these challenges, but accepts that more work is needed.
This year a refreshed ‘Community Cohesion Framework’ will launch, based on the premise that Sheffield people should ‘all feel that they are a value part of this city regardless of how old they are, how long they have lived in the city, what they believe or what their background.
Sheffield leaders need to keep inequality in their minds when making decisions, the report says.
The Outdoor City and other initiatives are helping build upon Sheffield’s ‘fantastic and unique’ green spaces that are ‘unrivalled’ among major UK cities.
But more people need to walk and cycle regularly in order to improve the environment and public health - and air quality is still a serious concern.
According to the report, Sheffield must encourage more of its population to make use of the outdoor environment.
The city must also work together to tackle the ‘long-standing’ air quality problems.
Democracy and Engagement
The relatively high voter turnout for the EU referendum in June shows Sheffield people are still passionate about issues that matter to them, the report says.
There is still ‘much to explore and understand’ about the implications of the vote to leave the EU. But the move towards devolution in South Yorkshire creates potential for ‘greater engagement and involvement of residents’ in shaping the future locally.
City institutions must be open and eager to listen, with new generations of leaders drawn from all communities.
“Reinvigorating democracy and engagement is possible and this will be fundamental to achieving the vision for creating a prosperous and inclusive Sheffield of the future,” the report says.