Barnsley and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority announce independent commission to help people back to work
Data from the 2021 census collected by the Office for National Statistics identified 6,000 people in Barnsley who were economically inactive but expressed desire to move into employment.
Experts in social and labour issues have been convened for a new, independent commission, called Pathways to Work, in order to identify ways to support those 6,000 Barnsley residents into employment.
People in Barnsley are 12% more likely to be economically inactive than the national average, and it’s thought that having 1,000 more people in work in the town would bring an extra £29m into the area based on average earnings. Barnsley Council is also hopeful that increased employment would also bring a reduction in payments of Universal Credit, as well as improved health and wellbeing if people can be supported into meaningful jobs.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: "While our job market is robust and has many advantages for most residents, it pains us to see families and communities in challenging situations missing out.
“We want to level the playing field, so more households can benefit, not only in their finances but also in their health and overall quality of life within our borough.”
The new commission is in conjunction with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, and will spend the next 12 months engaging with residents, employers, educators, and the Barnsley 2030 Board to identify barriers to employment that are faced by local people, as well as finding ways to overcome these barriers.
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central praised the collaborative approach: “We have huge potential here in Barnsley, and I want us to make sure everyone can thrive and prosper in decent, well-paid jobs.
“It’s why we’ve mobilised a team of nationally recognised experts to work on an ambitious and innovative plan to help get local people into work.
“As the world of work changes, we must change with it, and I want Barnsley to be at the forefront of a national drive towards accessible, inclusive employment opportunities. The more people that can access well-paid, high-quality jobs, the stronger economy and society we will have."
Leading the commission is former cabinet minister and social mobility champion Alan Milburn, who is joined on the panel by leaders in public health, labour market experts, and local employers and politicians.
Milburn says that “The launch of Pathways to Work represents an investment in Barnsley's future,” adding that, “This Commission will put forward practical solutions that can not only make a difference within the borough but also have a positive impact on a regional and national scale."
South Yorkshire mayor, Oliver Coppard, discusses how using Barnsley as a case study can help others across the region.
"This Commission won't just help us understand the challenges faced by all too many people across Barnsley,” he said, “it will help us understand what we can do to address the challenge facing those people out of work across South Yorkshire and beyond.
“Everyone deserves the right to access jobs and opportunity, wherever they are, but we know not everyone can make the best use of their talents or access the opportunities we're creating across the region.”