Out of work total declines below average

Sheffield’s unemployment total is declining more slowly than many other parts of the country – despite a fall of more than 18 per cent over the last year.

A map published by the Financial Times has revealed a big difference in the rate at which people are returning to work across the UK as the economic recovery gathers pace.

The most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show the number of job seekers’ allowance claimants in Sheffield fell by 3,285 in January 2014 to 14,476, compared with 17,761 in January 2013.

All areas apart from one district in Northern Ireland saw declines.

However, the Financial Times map showed Sheffield and other provincial towns and cities are lagging behind rural and southern areas.

In Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster – along with cities such as Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford and Birmingham – unemployment has dropped by between 10 and 19 per cent.

Meanwhile, some rural boroughs including parts of the Midlands, North Yorkshire and the prosperous South East, have seen falls in unemployment of more than 30 per cent.

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East Labour MP, said: “The Government’s cuts have been felt hardest in areas with a lot of public sector jobs – so Sheffield and other northern cities have been left more exposed to prolonged unemployment than other parts of the country.”

Sheffield business leaders have called on the city’s economic and political leaders to pull together to ensure it is ‘part of the recovery’.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Yes, the UK economy is picking up, but Sheffield needs to make sure it is part of that recovery and not left behind playing catch-up.”

“We need to see more inward investment, more exports from the city region, more business funding, more expansions into new markets, more incentive to take on staff and ultimately more ambition from everyone to make this city great again.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “Sheffield has seen an increase of 16,300 people in work since 2010, although there is still much more to do.”