Yesterday we launched the State of Sheffield 2016, an independently written report that draws together a wide range of publicly available data to tell the story of how Sheffield is doing. The report is commissioned by Sheffield Executive Board, and the lead author is Professor Gordon Dabinett of the University of Sheffield, so it is not subject to editorial control by any public institution.
This is the fifth report we have produced in the current format. Each report has focused on different issues, so they really need to be read as one to build a full picture of the city, but in producing this report the authors felt the time was right to look back over those five years, to see if any trends have been established that are meaningful for Sheffield’s future.
So what does the report tell us? Here are some highlight messages:
- Sheffield continues to grow as a city with 563,700 people living here in 2014, and it is becoming increasingly diverse and cosmopolitan.
- Gross Value Added (GVA) and GVA per head have grown in Sheffield and the City Region between 2003 and 2013 and on this basis the city and region show an equivalent or higher rate of economic growth than other city regions. But this comes from a low base: Sheffield City Region has the lowest GVA per head of all comparator areas and other city regions.
- Sheffield has a better performance on employment than most other major UK cities, but wages remain low relative to national averages and other Core Cities.
- The 2015 Indices of Deprivation indicate that more people in the city live in the most deprived areas in national terms, while at the same time people live in the least deprived areas: the city is more polarised than it was in 2010.
- Sheffield children are making progress in Early Years, Key Stage 2 and GCSE attainment: gaps to the national average still exist, though in some cases these are starting to close.
- Youth unemployment remains a challenge, with the June 2015 rate of 24.3% above the national average and the highest of all core cities, driven by high female youth unemployment. That being said, Sheffield and its City Region are making big strides in developing skills through apprenticeships, and there is evidence that young people in SCR are better prepared for work than elsewhere.
- More Sheffield young people from all parts of the city are gaining a place at a university, and the job market for new graduates in Sheffield is better than it has been since 2007.
- Life expectancy has improved for Sheffield residents, and the gap between male (78.8 years) and female (82.4 years) figures has narrowed to 3.5 years.
- Healthy life expectancy has improved for men to 61 years, but has fallen for women from 61 years in 2009-11 to 59 years in 2011-13.
- There are increasing mental and emotional health needs in young people and women in Sheffield, matching national trends and linked strongly with deprivation and health inequality.
With this, and other, findings in mind, the report goes on to suggest some critical areas of focus for Sheffield as it plans for the future:
- As a growing city, Sheffield needs to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in a context of public services austerity, and the need to attract and retain a balanced population.
- To remain a young and vibrant city, Sheffield needs to accelerate the improvements it is making in the education and skills arena, and it needs to work to reduce gaps in performance that exist across the city. The city also needs to ensure older people get the services they need, and that young people, black & minority ethnic people and women are more able to access better quality employment.
- There are encouraging signs for Sheffield’s future economy, but growth needs to be accelerated, and consideration needs to be given to the city’s relationship with the City Region in this context.
- Sheffield needs to work together better so that the city can become a fairer and more just place, looking at both in-work and out-of-work poverty as issues that threaten the future success of the city.
- Sheffield’s environment remains a major asset, as outlined in the new Outdoor City Strategy; the city needs to ensure it is maintained, so questions of sustainability are crucial to Sheffield’s future.
- There are significant changes underway in leadership and governance of the city and city region, with the establishment of the SCR combined authority, potential for a city region mayor and devolution of funding. This raises new opportunities for the city to work with its city region partners to shape economic growth and promote social inclusion across the region.
I really recommend you read the report in full. Sheffield has the capacity to be a truly great 21st century city, but we will only get there by everyone pulling in the same direction – and that starts with everyone having the same understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face.