Mayor Dan Jarvis and local authority leaders will cut bus and tram travel costs for young people – extending concessionary fares to everyone age 21 and under across South Yorkshire for a year.

In a major boost to young people, it means a single bus fare will cost 80p, and forms parts of a comprehensive £23.45m support package to tackle unemployment and help the South Yorkshire’s young people recover from COVID.

In South Yorkshire, the claimant count for unemployment benefits is higher for 16-24 year-olds than the rate nationally. In Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, the youth claimant count is between 9% and 10%, some of the highest rates in the country.

These measures will support South Yorkshire leaders’ wider recovery and renewal plan, and the reduced fares will:

  • Help young people get to work, and find jobs and training opportunities
  • Support the recovery of our town and city centres, by encouraging young people to travel to leisure and hospitality venues when restrictions are relaxed
  • Encourage more young people to use public transport – supporting bus operators who have been hit by a fall in passenger numbers
  • Help to accelerate the region’s transition to net zero

The concession is due to start in June 2021, when social distancing measures are likely to be lifted in line with the Government’s COVID roadmap.

The discount will remain in place for a year. It marks an extension of the existing 11 – 18-year old concession, and young people will be eligible until the day before their 22nd birthday.

At a time when young people have been hit hard by unemployment as a result of the COVID pandemic, Mayor Dan Jarvis and the four South Yorkshire leaders are working hard to ensure that young people can still access the training they need to find good jobs.

More than £1.55 million of the devolved Adult Education Budget will be used to make sure young people have a second chance to achieve basic maths, literacy and digital skills and qualifications they may have missed during formal schooling, allowing them to progress into work or further learning.

A further £15.2 million will be invested in:

  • Creating apprenticeships and training opportunities through the Renewal Action Plan
  • Improving facilities at the region’s colleges and delivering employer-driven technical and digital skills, as well as providing opportunity to train in new and innovative construction techniques
  • Extending the Skills Bank programme to ensure businesses are supported to train and develop their young workforce to progress their careers
  • Growing the Careers and Enterprise Company hub to deliver high quality, relevant advice to inspire young people

Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Our young people have been hit hard by the pandemic and these measures will play a significant role in ensuring no young person in South Yorkshire is left behind as our region recovers from the impact of Covid. By extending our bus and tram concessions to those aged 21 and under, we are giving young people a helping hand to enable them to access training and jobs, as well as enjoy our town and city centres once restrictions allow.

“I have always believed that where you grow up shouldn’t determine where you end up. And despite the Government turning its back on our young people by failing to keep promises on levelling up, I will make sure every young person in South Yorkshire has access to the jobs and training opportunities they need to succeed. We are backing our young people and investing in their future.”

Leader of Barnsley Council, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our young people, and as a council, we’ll do all we can to help them recover and move forward. Our plans for Barnsley provide a positive future for young people with opportunities to learn, develop new skills and have greater access to apprenticeships and good jobs. Extending concessionary bus fares until March 2022 will give young people better access to opportunities as we come out of the pandemic at a time when they most need it.”

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, welcomed the joint commitment, saying: “The pandemic has hit our young people hard in Doncaster and the wider region and it has been a challenge on so many levels.

“By extending concessionary fares to those up until the age of 21, it is hoped this will help our younger generation to travel for essential work, training, school, college or university and help with the financial pressures during difficult times for so many people and families. The extension will also help when we get back to some sense of normality and can travel for leisure, visiting family and friends which is so important for health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council said: “In our recent council budget we set out how recovery from the COVID pandemic must be a priority for us over the coming months and how the council will create dozens of work opportunities for young people at risk of long term unemployment.

“In making this announcement today across South Yorkshire, we are stepping up that commitment. With cheaper travel and more work opportunities we are leading the country in making sure that people starting out on their working life get the support that they need at this really difficult time. It’s a good example of how our devolution deal can bring real practical benefits to Rotherham residents.”

Councillor Bob Johnson, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Young people in Sheffield and across the country have been hit hard by the pandemic and it’s essential that we do everything in our power to support them as we move out of lockdown.

“Cutting the cost of sustainable travel around Sheffield over the next year will open up opportunities for young people around the city, helping them get to work, training or education. Not being able to afford to get to work is a barrier no young person should face in 2021.

“Alongside this welcome announcement, as a council Sheffield is working directly with businesses to support them to reopen safely and maximise revenue when they reopen. Over £100m in grants has also been paid to Sheffield-based businesses over the course of the pandemic and we will continue to ensure that further funding is paid as quickly and efficiently as possible over the next few months.

“We are transforming travel opportunities across Sheffield through Connecting Sheffield, a project to improve active travel routes and public transport infrastructure across the city, which is focused on better connecting people with their places of work. The first phase of this work has been funded by a £50m successful bid from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund by Sheffield City Region.

“Through investment and opportunities, we must all commit to giving our diverse communities the tools and support they need working together as a region to build back better from Covid-19.”