Today the fourth State of Sheffield report is published.
The theme of this year’s snapshot, commissioned by Sheffield’s Executive Board, is how Sheffield performs when compared to other cities of a similar size globally – a complex task.
Data shows that between 2007 and 2012, Sheffield saw growth in unemployment and its population, but a decline in its gross domestic product per capita.
In 2010, it had one of the lowest measures of economic health around – with only Polish cities faring worse.
Such decline is thought to be down to the city’s former public sector growth, which was hit by austerity.
The city’s population has grown, as has employment, in contrast to other EU cities, but GDP output - overall value of goods and services in the city – remains a problem.
Sharon Squires, director of Sheffield First partnership which brings together city organisations, said quality of life was one of the city’s biggest assets but added: “The biggest challenge to the city is its GDP.
“A lot of the growth in the city was through its public sector and since austerity started the private sector hasn’t grown to the point it needs to resolve that.”
The report found it was difficult to compare Sheffield with other cities, because most of a similar size were part of a larger Metro or regional authority area.
Although it is currently ‘performing well’ in comparison it has some way to go – and the report suggests devolution to a Northern Powerhouse is the best way forward.
Sharon added: “This report shows that the cities which are doing best are the ones that are part of a wider Metro area, like the Northern Powerhouse, so the good thing in comparison is that Sheffield’s population is growing.” The report argues that stronger collaboration between northern cities is vital for the development of city economies, so places like Sheffield can compete with London, as well as internationally.
Having thriving businesses, sustainable public services and a good quality of life are seen as vital in attracting workers and stopping the exodus of talent to the south.
While the need for ‘effective collaborative leadership’ is highlighted, the recent reports into child sex abuse in Rotherham have criticised how regional authority leaders worked together.
Sharon added: “I think that is a challenge – but I also think we have some very dedicated and capable leaders across the city and city region.
“We need to make sure that they are working together as well as they can.
“We have set up the Sheffield City Region combined authority and the Sheffield devolution deal, while not as significant as the Manchester deal, it involved city leaders from across the region.”
There is likely to be a further State of Sheffield report next year – the fifth in total.
So far the tangible results include Sheffield Money, which will be launched soon to provide ethically based credit, and other commissions and reports into equality or the environment.
Sharon said the report showed what was happening to the city, sparked debate and allowed ‘key recommendations’ to be worked on together, rather than disparately. Very few cities have a similar report into their development.
To read the report, co-authored by The University of Sheffield’s Professor Gordon Dabinett visit www. sheffieldfirst.com from 7am.
The number of businesses in the city has grown by eight per cent since 2011, the report found.
In total 1,000 new units have opened, with significant growth in the education, information and communications and the professional, technical and scientific sectors. But there are slightly fewer businesses in finance and insurance.
The report said more graduates are finding work in Sheffield, a major factor in driving economic growth.
It highlighted the value of the city’s two universities and colleges.
Overall unemployment in Sheffield dropped from 10.9 per cent to 10.5 per cent over the year to June 2014, and Sheffield’s employment rate ‘compares well’ to other cities.
Inequality is still a major challenge in Sheffield and more people are experiencing financial insecurity, the report found.
Fairness has long been an issue in the city and it has previously been reported how welfare reforms are spread unevenly across the city.
The report found that 43 per cent of all households in the city – or 97,000 – were financially vulnerable, in that adverse monetary pressures could trigger financial distress.
This is higher than the national average but lower than cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. Communities most likely to be affected include Parson Cross, Shiregreen and Arbourthorne, Crookes, Endcliffe and Broomhill.
A Sheffield Money scheme is being set up to provide better, more flexible and cheaper alternatives to pay-day loans.
The report welcomed new developments as ‘signs Sheffield can adapt and change’.
It focused on new developments such as the University of Sheffield’s £81m engineering complex The Diamond, Sheffield Hallam University’s £30m Institute of Education, the £43m Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Factory 2050 at Catcliffe, the £40m Olympic Legacy Park and the extension of Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Sharon Squires, of Sheffield First, said one of the positive things that came out of the report was that ‘cranes were back on Sheffield’s skyline’.
Another positive was that the report was compiled with the help of students, she added.
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