Devolution and Disadvantage in Sheffield City Region

Important new research on devolution and its impact on the Sheffield City Region has been completed. The summary report is attached and the link to this and the more detailed report is on the web link below.

Press release below.

“Devolution is being used to implement further austerity cuts on the Sheffield City Region (SCR) with disadvantaged groups and areas particularly affected, new research has found.

A policy brief released  (15 September) on Devolution and disadvantage in the Sheffield City Region: An assessment of employment, skills and welfare policies says that austerity cuts and welfare reforms result in over £1.1 billion in lost income to the SCR, far exceeding the committed £900m the Government has offered over the next 30 years from devolution deals.

The report, authored by Dr David Etherington from Middlesex University and Professor Martin Jones from the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield also reveals a poorly co-ordinated policy landscape of national and local-based employment and skills programmes being implemented in the SCR, some of which are beyond local influence. The authors argue that there is little transparency on how these initiatives perform and their effectiveness.

In the Sheffield City Region, the study discovered access to the employment and skills system for disadvantaged groups is not being widened, and social and geographical inequalities are increasing. This is undermining the Government’s model of devolution and localism.

In order to have effective city-region based economic growth and social prosperity, the report calls for several areas to be fixed by policy-makers and politicians in further rounds of devolution as a matter of urgency:

  • Promote inclusive governance at the City Region level
  • Design growth strategies to address poverty reduction
  • Redesign welfare to work programmes for target groups
  • Increase emphasis on in-work support and progression
  • Promote employment rights and employee voices within the city region

In late 2014, the UK Government announced its flagship Northern Powerhouse initiative, whereby city regions were to be given more ‘powers’ to develop initiatives in their local areas, in order to regenerate city economies, which for many years lagged behind in terms of growth and prosperity.

However, the authors say that in practice the powers being devolved are often the supervision and delivery of a narrow section of policy activity, rather than allowing city regions any influence over the design, nature and implementation of policy and practice.

The policy brief, alongside the full report, was launched at the Governing Social and Spatial Inequalities Under Enduring Austerity conference in Sheffield City Hall.”

Dr David Etherington
Principal Researcher
Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR)
Middlesex University


National Day of Action on Rail 2016

 Sheffield TUC is taking part in the national day of action organised by Action For Rail on the day rail fares rise AGAIN!

Martin Mayer Sheffield TUC Secretary says “This year’s rise may only be 1.1% – but that’s still more than inflation – and most people’s wage rise! Our privatised railway is getting more expensive to use every year. That doesn’t have to be the case: bringing rail back into public ownership would be CHEAPER for the taxpayer – and keep fares lower for all of us”.

Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism

Trade Unionists have always taken a special interest in combating right-wing, authoritarian and reactionary forces that seek to divide workers on the basis of their ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual preference. Sheffield Trades Union Council is proud to uphold this tradition by campaigning against the divisive politics of the far-right on a local basis. We affiliate to both the local and national Unite Against Fascism organisations, seek to educate workers as to the need for solidarity irrespective of personal characteristics and participate in demonstrations against racist and fascist organisations.

Living Wage and Anti-Casualisation

The last three decades has seen the wages of many workers stagnate, while the economic downturn of 2007-2014 has seen a rapid escalation in the cost of living, as rents, utility and food bills and the cost of transport soar. At the same time there are estimated to be around 1.4 million workers in the UK who are on Zero Hour Contracts, meaning that their employer gives them no commitment in relation to earnings, leaving workers in a situation of profound financial insecurity. That such a large proportion of Britain’s workforce finds itself unable to earn a ‘living wage’ (what it costs to have a fair living standard) is nothing short of a disgrace. Sheffield Trades Union Council is therefore committed both to seeking the living wage for every worker in this city, as well as ensuring that they are on a contract that works for them, stipulating guaranteed hours to allow workers to manage their finances and plane for the future. Sheffield Trades Union Council has endorsed campaigns against Zero-Hour Contracts that are being fought by local branches of union such as BFAWU and UCU.

Trade Union Rights

Sheffield Trades Union Council, as the oldest organisations of its kind in England and Wales, knows only too well the ways in which unscrupulous employers and their political representatives have sought to restrict the fundamental rights of workers to come together and to organise in their mutual interest. The United Kingdom today has some of the most restrictive anti-trade union laws in the developed world and this is a situation that Sheffield TUC is dedicated to changing. One of the most explicit, egregious and criminal assaults on the rights of workers to unionise in recent history has been the operation of ‘blacklist’ by many of the major players in the construction industry, and Sheffield TUC is dedicated to working with member unions such as UCATT and UNITE to punish those who were involved in the operation of this blacklist and to win compensations for those workers who have had their lives destroyed through being unable to obtain work.

Transport Regulation and Nationalisation

Sheffield Trades Union Council believes that the privatisation and deregulation of our transport industries have been an unmitigated disaster, leading to increased public subsidies that prop-up private profits, decreasing quality of service, and unacceptable increases in the levels of fares paid by transport users. Transport is an issue that affects all workers, but most of all those on low and middle incomes, who are unable to afford access to a car and are dependent on often unreliable public transport alternatives. Sheffield TUC is proud to support campaigns such as Action4Rail, which seeks to bring public transport back into public ownership.

Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign

1M Green Jobs – Campaign Against Climate Change

Campaign Against the Arms Trade – From Arms to Renewables