LEVELLING UP SHAMBLES - Cllr Chris Read hits out following new report

LEVELLING UP SHAMBLES - Cllr Chris Read hits out following new report

By Jill Theobald | 23/06/2022

LEVELLING UP SHAMBLES - Cllr Chris Read hits out following new report


COUNCIL leader Chris Read has slammed the Government’s “shambolic” claim of “levelling up” the north following the publication of a report ranking Rotherham among the 20 worst performing places in the country.

Cllr Chris Read said The State of our Social Fabric report by think-tank Onward — which analyses different types of affluence in towns and cities across the country — showed “the consequences of cuts and austerity are laid bare”.

The report found places with “strong social fabric” had high levels of “physical infrastructure”, “economic value”, “civic institutions” and “positive social norms”.

The areas said to be worst affected by “worn out and fraying” social fabric were “coastal areas, city suburbs and large towns”.

Rotherham was ranked 19th lowest for “social fabric”, with a score of 4.04.

Richmond upon Thames ranked the highest in the country at 6.42, while Hull was bottom and Barnsley and Doncaster were both in the lowest scoring 20 places.

The report’s authors said: “The growing social inequality between these places and the rest of the country is one reason for their economic decline.”

It added: “This means that ‘levelling up’ must be a social as well as economic endeavour.”

Rotherham Council leader Cllr Read said: “This report is the latest in a long line that demonstrate what a shambles the government’s claim to be ‘levelling up’ the country is.

“It measures different types of affluence, and across a range of measures, the consequences of cuts and austerity are laid bare.

“In communities like ours that already had more than our fair share of problems in 2010, more than a decade of disproportionate cuts to public services and to the welfare safety net on which many people depend has left our communities poorer, in worse health, men actually dying younger, and with less faith in social institutions.

“It’s little surprise that Rotherham ranks marginally above our neighbours in Barnsley and Doncaster, a little behind places like Wakefield.”

Cllr Read said the report did not highlight the Rotherham community’s ability to “rally despite the odds against us”.

He added: “Something like 20,000 local people give up their time to volunteer, our schools would be the envy of many communities, and we have attracted significant national business investment over the last few years.

“We are doing more through our social value work and promotion of the Real Living Wage to ensure that more of the money we do have works harder for our borough.”

Speaking at a recent Onward conference, health secretary Sajid Javid described the Social Fabric report as an “important publication”.

He told the conference: “The burden of ill health is not evenly spread in our country.”

He added: “People living in the most deprived areas of England live in good health for around 19 years fewer than those in the most affluent areas.”

Health officials said work was going on to boost the health of Rotherham’s least well.

Michael Wright, deputy chief executive at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said they had set up a health inequalities task and finish group with RMBC and Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group to tackle health inequalities.