Report now needs answers

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TODAY sees the publication of a new report setting out the challenges ahead for Sheffield as a leading city in the UK.

The State of Sheffield report may not in itself provide us with any new information, but it pulls together, possibly for the first time, the strengths, weaknesses challenges and opportunities that we face looking forward to 2020.

And it allows us to reference our progress and our resilience in surviving the recession against other core cities and the UK average.

This report, covering four main areas, people, wellbeing, employment and the future, brings together data from the past and projects future trends.

Key areas include the fact that we will continue to see job losses in the public sector on a massive scale, with reverberations into the private sector. Yet we also anticipate rapid growth in employment and diversification into more modern employment sectors.

Our changing demographics will see a polarisation. While the city will not necessarily see an ageing population as in other cities, due to the retention of university graduates choosing to live in Sheffield, we will see more people living longer, with associated social and health needs.

And that will pose a significant problem to the quality of housing, with population increases necessitating more, smaller housing, yet we have an ageing stock of property.

As far as it goes, The State of Sheffield report is a useful and necessary benchmarking exercise. It poses challenging questions and sets out priorities for the city’s leaders. But it falls short of setting out the answers.

Those answers will now need to be worked out and delivered. And that is the real challenge that lies ahead in delivering the answers needed to address the issues in what remains a challenging time in all sectors.

Time for full and frank disclosure

AS the contract between Sheffield City Council and Almo organisation Sheffield Homes comes up for renewal, tenants across the city are being asked who they would like to manage their council homes.

But as readers of our Letters page will know, there is great concern that tenants are not being told enough to make an informed judgement.

And it certainly seems that scare stories have been thrown into the equation which do not help the quest for clarity.

It is time for a full and frank disclosure, from both sides, of how they would meet the challenge of managing the city’s council homes - including details of what would be lost in the process.