OPINION: City faces concerns

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We all have opinions on the state of our city. But rarely are so many statistics, indicators and trends gathered together in one place as in the third annual State of Sheffield report.

This year’s analysis of the challenges facing Sheffield, and its successes, is published today and makes for interesting reading - at times reassuring, at others concerning.

On one hand, there are signs that the recession has not damaged the local economy as much as it could have, and Sheffield is a popular place to live - a ‘city of choice’, to borrow the report’s phrase.

The population has increased by 39,500 in 10 years and more than 19 per cent are now from ethnic minorities.

This is not a concern in itself - as the report comments, Sheffield is now ‘more diverse and cosmopolitan’. But the challenge lies in how residents adapt to the pace of change and manage to foster a good, cohesive community.

Elsewhere youth unemployment is an issue city leaders accept needs tackling with further action.

Chronic illnesses are expected to put a strain on NHS services, and there continue to be clear differences in health between affluent and deprived parts of the city.

But warnings about a further increase in poverty-stricken families are perhaps most worrying.

Work is no longer the route out of financial hardship, we are told, and people who may be ‘living on the edge’ already may find themselves in further difficulties.

Few of these problems are unique to Sheffield. However, responding to them will be the test of how we can remain a ‘city of choice’.