Barnsley 2030

About levelling up

Levelling up is the government’s ambition to address gaps in quality of life, prosperity and wellbeing between people who live in different parts of the country. It’s based on a national policy looking at issues like jobs, skills, business, infrastructure, pride in place and wellbeing. It gives councils the opportunity to access grants for important local projects under the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund.

Barnsley is a place with a catching-up economy. We’re making great progress in some areas. We're in the top 10% of council areas in the country for jobs growth over the last five years. But there is much more to do to help our communities with some of the challenges they face.

‘Levelling Up for Barnsley’ helps to explain what levelling up means for us, focusing on four fundamental pillars:

  • Excellent school education and access to life-changing activities for young people.
  • Higher incomes through more and better jobs.
  • More people living longer in better physical and mental health.
  • A much better public transport system.

Read our levelling up bid.

Take a look at our video of Cllr Chris Lamb discussing levelling up in Barnsley.



Levelling up school education in Barnsley

Learning Barnsley banner

The challenge

Before the disruption of Covid-19, Barnsley primary school children had started to outperform the national average in reading, writing and maths. Meanwhile, at secondary school, looking at GCSE results, the attainment gap with wider areas is closing. But there is much more to do. Students in Barnsley are still 10% more likely to leave school without a standard pass in GCSE Maths and English than they are across England.

How we compare

Below are some examples of the local challenges in education, here in Barnsley. These are compared with some of the best-performing areas.

Five year olds achieving expected standard in communication and language:

  • Barnsley - 81%
  • Yorkshire and Humber - 82.1%
  • England - 82.2%
  • Isles of Scilly - 96.4%

Five year olds achieving expected standard in literacy:

  • Barnsley - 70.8%
  • Yorkshire and Humber - 71.1%
  • England - 73.4%
  • Richmond upon Thames - 82.3%

 Five year olds achieving expected standard in maths:

  • Barnsley - 75.8%
  • Yorkshire and Humber - 76.3%
  • England - 78.5%
  • Surrey - 86%

Early years funding (hourly rates) for three to four year olds:

  • Barnsley - £4.61
  • Yorkshire and Humber - £4.69
  • Leeds - £5.12
  • Inner London - £7.20
  • Camden - £8.51

Young people achieving maths and English GCSE

  • Barnsley - 69.3%
  • Yorkshire and Humber - 71.6%
  • England - 73%
  • Kingston upon Thames - 83.9%

What we want for school education in Barnsley

  • We want Barnsley's children and young people to aim high and achieve their full potential. This means boosting achievement and aspirations, especially for reading, writing and maths. We want to provide extra activities like sport, dance, acting, art and music. These are all proven to have a positive effect on educational outcomes.
  • All Barnsley children and young people should be ready to learn. They should have access to a place of learning which is rated good or outstanding.
  • We want as many children and young people as possible to go to school every day. School is the best place to learn and develop life skills.

What we're already doing for school education in Barnsley

  • Most schools in Barnsley are academies. In 2015 we set up the Barnsley Schools Alliance to improve teaching standards and educational outcomes across all schools. The Alliance has worked with schools to get children’s education back on track post-Covid-19. To do this, it's launched a revised Education Improvement Strategy for Barnsley.
  • All ten secondary schools and thirteen primary schools in Barnsley have been rebuilt. We've recently worked to bring a new secondary – Trinity Academy St Edwards’s – to the town. This will provide much-needed new school places. A brand new school building will be ready to open by September 2024.
  • We’ve developed our approach to school funding. This helps us to match national priorities and make sure government money is allocated directly to our schools. We've worked to maintain enough school places. This has included planning a new primary school to meet our ambitious housing growth plans.
  • We continue to increase the number of places across the borough for children and young people with special educational needs.

What extra support do we need?

Unfortunately, our schools haven’t received enough funding for a long time. Performance improvements over recent years have been achieved despite funding shortages. In the current financial climate, many of our maintained schools are struggling. We know better funding will greatly improve our children and young people’s achievement and attainment potential.

We want to work alongside schools, care providers and funders, including the government. This will allow us to maintain and improve education in Barnsley across many areas.

  • Childcare and early years: Improved access and sufficient provision to achieve a good level of development in our two, three and four-year-olds.
  • Family services and early help: Support for struggling families and those with additional needs,  improving attendance and outcomes for children and young people.
  • Special educational needs and alternative provision: Further and sustainable investment to make sure we have good quality provision and better outcomes. With various new schemes currently underway, we hope our plans will be fully endorsed and supported with this investment.
  • Schools and education: Further investment to improve the capacity of teachers. Using a targeted learning approach and tuition programmes to give access to good and outstanding Ofsted-rated schools.
  • Youth services: More and better out-of-school provision and programmes of enrichment activities, including capital investment in our proposed Barnsley Youth Zone and the NAVE. The NAVE is a facility offering young people outstanding musical experiences. Multi-academy trusts also have a role in strengthening community education. They're opening their doors and enhancing offers to communities for choirs, sports, local clubs, charities, and health.

Levelling up income in Barnsley

Growing Barnsley Logo

The challenge

Between 2015 and 2021, nine thousand extra jobs were created in Barnsley. The number of residents claiming unemployment benefits has been below the national level for the last two years.

Despite huge progress, some residents still have challenges getting into work and earning enough to make ends meet. The average working resident in Barnsley earns £15 less for every day worked than people living elsewhere across the country. This ‘income gap’ has widened over a decade of austerity measures and more recent economic uncertainty.

How we compare

Below are examples of some of the local challenges, here in Barnsley. These are compared with some of the best-performing areas.

The median weekly pay for Barnsley is £563.90. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - £579.10
  • England - £642
  • South Cambs - £748.40

Employment in skilled jobs in Barnsley is 45.1%. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 57%
  • England - 60%
  • Croydon - 76.8%

The employment rate in Barnsley for 16 to 64 year olds is 69.1%. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 75.7%
  • National - 75.5%
  • Richmondshire - 90.4%

Children in low income families in Barnsley is 20.4%. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 18.1%
  • England - 15.1%
  • Rushcliffe - 5.7%

What we want to bring prosperity to Barnsley

  • No-one in Barnsley should live in poverty. Everyone should have what they need to look after themselves and their families. This starts with more people working and making sure those who can’t work get the support they’re entitled to.
  • We want to create more and better jobs in Barnsley. This means that everyone gets the opportunity to develop their skills and boost their earning potential. Businesses need to be supported to grow, create good jobs and bring value to our local economy.
  • People should be well paid and valued for their contribution through work. Jobs in Barnsley should pay the equivalent to other parts of the country.

What we're already doing in Barnsley to boost incomes 

  • We support people to feel the benefits of learning and work. Through information, advice and guidance we can help them find the best options to move forward in work.
  • New businesses and jobs are coming into the borough. Over 180 businesses have relocated or expanded into Barnsley since 2015. International parcel company Evri opened its £60m facility in Hoyland Common in September 2022. They created up to 1,400 new jobs across all skill and pay levels. The £23m Seam Digital Campus, in the heart of Barnsley town centre, will provide a focal point for inspiring entrepreneurs, create talent pathways, grow our digital business networks and boost well-paid jobs.
  • We help people with ideas set up new businesses. We also support Barnsley businesses to grow and create new jobs. We’ve helped almost 1,000 new businesses and over 600 existing businesses with growth plans in the last five years through Enterprising Barnsley.
  • People most in need are getting help with the cost of living. Over the winter of 2021/22, we distributed £2.3m in government funding to support low-income households. This was to help with the cost of food, energy, and other household expenses. We’ve also launched our More Money in Your Pocket campaign offering practical advice and guidance on coping with the rising cost of living.

What extra support do we need?

We want to work in partnership with the government to address our employment gap. Working together, we can create more and better jobs, and boost the skills of our residents.

We would like the Government to:

  • Work directly alongside us on our ‘pathways to work’ commission. This is an independent working group that proposes innovative new ways for Barnsley to be an inclusive place. A place where everyone benefits from work, especially those currently outside the labour market.
  • Give clearer and more predictable funding allocations. Central funding for local economic growth and skills projects to improve jobs/wages has been very unpredictable recently. Barnsley hasn’t always received funding in line with the level of need in our communities. We welcome the government’s pledge to streamlining funding and more transparency.
  • Make a commitment to continue the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This is our main source of business and skills funding – beyond March 2025.
  • Provide financial support for capital growth projects. To help us fund important community and cultural projects and to attract more private investment, business creation and growth. We’re happy to have received £10m for our Levelling Up Fund project for youth facilities in the town centre. We'll continue to seek funding for cultural, skills and employment opportunities at Elsecar in the south of the Borough.
  • Help create more and better jobs. Barnsley should be considered as a location for any future civil service decentralisation programmes. The seam should be designated as an investment zone supporting a renewed higher education presence in Barnsley.

Levelling up health in Barnsley

Healthy Barnsley banner

The challenge

We’re making progress on the key health-related challenges faced by Barnsley residents, but the levels of good health are still not enough. The average male born in Barnsley will have almost seven years less good health in their life than people across the country. Females will have, on average, three and a half years less in good health than the national average. Living in good health requires more than good health services. We need to address poverty, unemployment, low-quality housing and poorly connected communities.

How we compare

Below are some examples of the challenges in health, here in Barnsley. These are compared with some of the best performing areas.

Males in Barnsley are likely to live 55.9 years in good health. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 66.1 years
  • England - 63.1 years
  • Rutland - 74.7 years

Females in Barnsley are likely to live 60.1 years in good health. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 62.1 years
  • England - 63.9 years
  • Wokingham - 71.2 years

Cancer diagnosis rates (stages 1 and 2) are 50.1% in Barnsley. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 53.4 percent 
  • England - 55 percent 
  • Oxfordshire - 64.1 percent

Smoking prevalence in adults in Barnsley is 17 percent. This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber - 14.1 percent
  • National - 13 percent
  • York - 9.2 percent

What we want for health in Barnsley

  • We want Barnsley people to enjoy their life in good health. This means improving physical and mental health for all residents, while also focusing on the poorest health outcomes. For example, in cancer survival rates and levels of cardiovascular disease.
  • We'll give people access to the right support at the right time and in the right place. This will help tackle emerging health and wellbeing issues early.
  • We have a mission to increase income across Barnsley. People not living in poverty means more Barnsley people have the resources they need to stay well and look after themselves and their families.
  • We want older people to lead active and independent lives. To have quality of life with choice and control over their care and support.

What we're already doing in Barnsley

  • We’re focusing on heart health through a partnership to reduce unnecessary deaths from heart and circulation disease. We are raising awareness through campaigns such as How’s Thi Ticker?. This is community outreach blood pressure scheme. Everyone is helping to reduce smoking in Barnsley, including the Tobacco Control Alliance. The council, trading standards and the police are stopping illegal sales of cigarettes to under 18s.
  • Prevention of cancer is a priority across the healthcare system in Barnsley. Together with the NHS, we opened our pioneering high-street Community Diagnostic Centre in the Glass Works in July 2022. This has allowed us to increase the attendance level for routine screening.
  • We’re working with the Alcohol Alliance to reduce alcohol-related harm and the number of people who go to the hospital due to alcohol.

What extra support do we need?

The future of good health in Barnsley needs innovation and investment to improve all aspects of people’s lives. A safe and warm home, being in good work, support from friends and neighbours all help people achieve and maintain good health. We’d like to work with the government and people who deliver services. This is in healthcare and beyond, to show the improved health outcomes that can be achieved through this system-wide approach.

  • Levelling Up health fund: Funding for levelling up health outcomes focused on addressing wider factors such as work and living conditions. To support the government’s commitment to narrow the gap in healthy life expectancy, and the imbalance of funding towards acute care. This would increase the funding and delivery capacity of the community sector and social infrastructure
  • Increased investment, fair pay and boosting skills in the health and social care sector: Making sure people are adequately trained and fairly rewarded in health and social care should be a government priority. Increasing pay will require additional investment and action to make sure funding reaches staff. As part of a comprehensive workforce plan, a mix of policy options should be considered, such as introducing a sector-specific wage for social care.
  • Support into work: A national strategy and fund are required to provide comprehensive care and support for people struggling with mental health and those with learning disabilities and autism to get into good and sustainable work. We also need the support of the borough’s employers to fulfil their responsibility to enhance wellbeing and opportunities for all.
  • Active travel options: Safe attractive ways to walk and cycle encouraging people to have a more active lifestyle. We welcome continued government funding to support our growing network of active travel routes across Barnsley.

Levelling up transport in Barnsley

Sustainable Barnsley banner

The challenge

Cars dominate transport in Barnsley. This makes it tricky to get around and get on without a car. Transport results in a quarter of all our carbon emissions, making it even harder to reduce our impact on the environment.

Barnsley has a decent local rail service, but the trains don’t go everywhere. The ten stations in our borough connect to other parts of South and West Yorkshire. These provide vital connections between Barnsley and some of our other principal towns, but wider rail journeys always start with a slow train to Sheffield or Leeds.

In other places in our borough, people rely on a bus system. This is in crisis in Barnsley and South Yorkshire. Struggling operators are scaling back the number and frequency of services. The bus has become the last resort way to get around. A bus from Barnsley to Goldthorpe after 7pm takes an hour – a journey which takes 20 minutes in the car.

How we compare

Below are some examples of the challenges here in Barnsley. These are compared with some of the best performing areas. 

Planned local transport infrastructure spending per capita for Yorkshire and Humber is £489.

This is compared to:

  • England - £1349
  • London - £3376

Identifiable expenditure on transport per capita in Barnsley is £300

This is compared to:

  • Yorkshire and Humber £457
  • UK - £658
  • London - £1212

What we want for transport in Barnsley

  • Public transport should be a realistic choice for everyone to get to where they often go. At a minimum, this means reliable and affordable travel to and from Barnsley centre, Barnsley Hospital and the main places people work in the borough. Public transport is crucial to our aim to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.
  • In Barnsley, people should be able to walk or cycle comfortably and safely, at least for any journey of up to two miles. We need more and better paths and facilities for walking and cycling. We also need more people to choose active ways to get around.
  • Barnsley should have better and faster transport connections to places outside the borough. These will link our people and businesses with jobs and opportunities in the wider region. It will improve our attractiveness as a place to live and invest for those who haven’t yet discovered what we have to offer.

What we're already doing in Barnsley to improve transport

  • We’re making bus travel a priority. We're improving the quality and capacity of key roads in and around Barnsley. Around £20m is already being invested in making the busiest routes and junctions, like the A635, the A628 and Town end roundabout work better, with priority for buses and to install better bus passenger facilities.
  • Councils across South Yorkshire are working with the South Yorkshire Mayor and bus companies to hold the Government to account and find a long-term solution to funding the quality of bus services our communities deserve.
  • We’ve drawn up plans and campaigned for a redeveloped Goldthorpe train station – a new Dearne Valley Parkway, to connect communities to Northern Powerhouse Rail and cross-country intercity services.
  • We are investing in more and better paths and facilities for walking and cycling across Barnsley. This includes 100km of upgraded paths, another 100km of new cycle routes and three new active travel hubs. Work is underway to make a big change to the quality of longer-distance walking and cycling routes and access around transport hubs. Around £10m is being invested to create safe cycling on routes from the town to Royston and Goldthorpe and a much better pedestrian access to Darton, Elsecar and Penistone train stations.
  • The first wave of new electric vehicle charging points has been installed across the borough and we’ve secured funding for a second wave.

What extra support do we need?

South Yorkshire Mayor and the local passenger transport executive manage public transport in Barnsley. We work closely with the mayor and his transport teams to plan and maintain the best possible public transport service in Barnsley, but plans and allocations of money for future public transport are still controlled closely by central government. Sometimes Barnsley has benefited, for example from ‘city region’ investment not available in other parts of the country, but too often this has worked against us. In 2021, West Yorkshire was allocated £70m in central government funding to plan and improve its bus services. South Yorkshire received no funding for buses.

Working alongside the mayor, we’d like a partnership with the government to address our bus service challenges and deliver transport to boost our local and regional economy. 

  • Work with us and the mayor to secure the future of bus services in the region.
  • Help us get better connected to the fast rail network. We’d like to re-open the conversation about connecting the Deane Valley to the Northern Powerhouse Rail and the cross-country network. We also have ambitious plans to invest in capacity upgrades at Barnsley station to bring intercity service back to the borough.
  • Provide access to funding to accelerate our rollout of electric vehicle charging.
  • Support the proposed upgrades to the Penistone Line. This provides a critical transport link for communities in the west of the borough and connects us to Huddersfield.