Sheffield’s ruling Labour council has blamed ‘Government economic mismanagement’ after a report revealed 7,500 private sector jobs were lost in the city in its first two years in power.
The devastating research by the Centre for Cities showed the city was below the national average for employment, business start-ups, qualifications and earnings.
It concluded that Sheffield – and other cities such as Manchester – were ‘punching below their weight’ economically.
In contrast, London has created 10 times more private sector jobs than any other city since 2010.
Council leader Julie Dore says growth stagnated after the Government cut funding for key projects and abolished Yorkshire Forward, resulting in a two-thirds reduction in economic development funding.
She said: “Under the Tory-Lib Dem Government the vast majority of new jobs are being created in London and the south east. The gap between London and the rest of the country is widening.”
Centre for Cities calls for more powers to be devolved so cities such as Sheffield can take decisions to meet the needs of their economy.
The report says the next government must aim to boost the contribution of cities to UK economic prosperity by giving them greater control over decisions affecting their economy.
It states: “With cities driving global economic growth, this year’s Cities Outlook suggests the UK runs the risk of falling behind by relying too much on London for economic growth.
“London needs to be supported to continue to thrive but it is also important that businesses are attracted to other locations.
“This means the UK needs to do more to support its city economies and make the most of their strengths. Part of this is about investment in general economic drivers such as national infrastructure projects, reforms to planning, and skills.
“But drivers of economic growth will vary according to circumstances and it is important that cities can use their limited resources to invest in what their economy needs. The UK lags behind on devolution of powers to cities.
“Some cities should be making a much larger contribution to the national economy and understanding how to change this should be a political priority.”
Local knowledge is the best way to boost our economy
Business leaders in the Sheffield region were well aware of the city’s economic shortcomings long before yesterday’s Centre for Cities research came out.
The Local Enterprise Partnership – a collaboration between the private sector and nine councils including Sheffield – commissioned a report last year which showed the city under-performing nationally.
It was used to draw up plans to radically grow business over the next decade and set a target of creating 70,000 new jobs.
LEP chairman James Newman said: “We believe too many of the levers to boost economic growth are held by Whitehall officials – with little or no experience of what is needed to unlock industrial and business growth outside of London. Local leaders are in a better position to decide what will best benefit local businesses.”
The LEP report – submitted to Government in January – follows the first piece of devolution, the £76m City Deal which gave the region more responsibility for skills and transport to create 4,000 apprentices and train 2,000 adults.