by Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region
WHEN a person wants to work, they should be able to.
But far too often the cost of commuting prevents people from finding employment, especially within our poorest communities.
A 2018 report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the cost of public transport was consistently highlighted as a significant barrier to work, particularly for people in low wage, insecure work.
When I was elected as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, I promised to work hard to achieve prosperity for all of our communities.
Which is why I’m proud that we will be providing free travel passes for thousands of people on Employment Support Programmes in South Yorkshire.
Free bus travel for a limited time will be launched for those who are on Sheffield City Region Employment Support Programmes and are eligible on October 1.
The Foundation’s report highlighted the importance of regional investment in connecting people on a low income.
By investing in a healthy and happy workforce, we can help boost South Yorkshire's economy.
Working with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, we are providing free bus passes to support people into work and sustain their employment, removing one barrier to employment in our region and helping thousands get into work — something that a Government-led scheme would struggle to deliver locally.
The bus passes will be valid on routes across South Yorkshire for both commuting and leisure.
I am delighted that not only are we are helping our people to get to work but we are also giving them the opportunity to explore new places in our region on their days off.
Allowing workers to use buses for free could help them become more active through their commute, find a routine which works around their job, and alleviate financial pressures in their first months of employment.
Financial insecurity has a negative impact on mental health, which in turn could lead to poor performance at work.
By not having to worry about their bus fare until they're settled into their job, new staff will face less anxiety surrounding their finances.
Almost three quarters of workers have been affected by personal finance related stress in the last year, according to Hastee Pay's Workplace Wellbeing report, while 39 per cent of workers have missed work because of money worries.
Removing worries around the cost of commuting for the first months of employment gives people a better chance of staying in work.
Being absent from work in the first few months of a job could put a person’s continued employment in jeopardy, so it is crucial our most disadvantaged workers are supported as they settle in.
By giving people free bus passes, being unable to afford transport won’t keep them from their workplace.
There are also a number of physical health benefits which come from travelling to work on the bus.
Using public transport has been linked to the lower likelihood of being overweight — on average people take part in an extra 16 minutes of physical activity each day by travelling by bus.
Making South Yorkshire a place where people travel on foot, by bike or using public transport is a key priority for my Mayoralty.
By enabling those entering the workforce to use public transport for free for a limited time, we are giving the opportunity to experience the benefits of commuting by bus on both their health and their finances.
By introducing these passes we are removing barriers to employment for thousands of potential workers and ensuring that South Yorkshire is a place where people who want to work, can.
Visit workingwin.com for more information.