Global experts have been enlisted by Barnsley Council and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to identify new solutions to help more of the town's 6,000 economically inactive residents into work.
Barnsley residents are 12% more likely to be economically inactive than the national average. Having 1,000 more people in work would mean the borough’s residents would earn an extra £29m a year, based upon average earnings. There would also be a huge reduction in payment of Universal Credit, improved livelihoods and real health and wellbeing benefits for residents if they can be supported to move into meaningful employment.
Addressing this issue head-on, Councillor Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, 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.”
In partnership with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Barnsley Council is embarking on an innovative project to identify solutions.
Monday 3 July marks the official launch of the new, independent Commission, called ‘Pathways to Work’.
This Commission sets out to understand the challenges faced by individuals in Barnsley and explore potential solutions to help communities overcome barriers to employment.
Emphasising the importance of collective action, Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said: “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."
Under the guidance of Rt Hon Alan Milburn, former Cabinet Minister and social mobility champion, the Commission will include leading labour market and health experts, as well as local employers and politicians.
Their year-long work programme of work will begin by actively engaging with residents, employers, educators, and the Barnsley 2030 Board. With research, fresh data, and expert insights, the Commission aims to learn from successful practices both within the UK and internationally.
Commenting on the significant of the Commission, Alan Milburn added: "The launch of Pathways to Work represents an investment in Barnsley's future.
“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."
Adding his perspective, Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire, stated: "This Commission won't just help us understand the challenges faced by all too many people across Barnsley, 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.
“This Commission is an important step in helping us rise to that challenge and giving everyone across our communities the help and support they need and deserve."
More information about the commission and opportunities to engage will be shared in the coming weeks.