Work needed to ensure equality, according to State of Sheffield report

Inequality is widening in Sheffield
Inequality is widening in Sheffield
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Sheffield needs to ‘urgently consider’ how to prevent further growth of inequality, according to a new report.

The fifth annual State of Sheffield report, released today, highlights key areas of concern in the city, including high youth unemployment, a need for investment in business and ‘unacceptably poor’ air quality. It also points to a number of reasons for optimism, such as improved education, economic growth and opportunities offered by devolved powers.

The report is commissioned every year by the Sheffield Executive Board, which comprises leaders from the city’s private, public, voluntary, community and faith sectors.

Launching this year’s report, incoming chairman David Blunkett said: “We are in the throes of eye-watering austerity and we need to mobilise good will in Sheffield, and to find new ways of commissioning and delivering services and initiatives has to be a priority.

“Sheffield First Partnership aims to use this report to explore what is working well and what is not. No one else is doing this.

“We are looking at the city’s strengths and challenges in order to mobilise the city as a whole. This is not someone else’s job.”

Lord Blunkett.

Picture by Dean Atkins

Lord Blunkett. Picture by Dean Atkins

One of the report’s main concerns was inequality. While Sheffield was praised for always taking the challenge of reducing divisions in society seriously, the report said inequality and poverty had grown. This was highlighted by the significant increase in foodbanks.

Director of the Sheffield First Partnership Sharon Squires said: “Inequality is widening with growing numbers of people experiencing financial insecurity.

“And providing high quality affordable housing, and good jobs remain key challenges for the city.”

The subject of devolution is a cause of both optimism and challenge, according to the report.

Shoppers on The Moor. Picture: Andrew Roe

Shoppers on The Moor. Picture: Andrew Roe

The establishment of the Sheffield City Region has given the area greater power to tackle economic and infrastructure issues, and the election of a Sheffield City Region mayor will further develop that power.

But, the report says, it also presents challenges in finding ‘effective and inclusive’ ways of developing policies and accountability.

Sharon said: “The city and city region are at the forefront of change, driving devolution and establishing a new combined authority.

“We are therefore well positioned to work together to accelerate progress and address inequality.”

The report is available at www.sheffieldfirst.com.