Jobseekers let down by poor public transport, new research reveals

Jobseekers in low-income neighbourhoods are willing to travel to work but find commuting options limited due to poor public transport, according to new research.

The research, which was conducted by Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looked at transport issues facing 54 residents who were out of work and looking for work in four low-income neighbourhoods: Harpurhey (Manchester), Hattersley (Tameside), Seacroft (Leeds) and Dewsbury Moor (Kirklees).

They discussed the time and distances residents were willing and able to travel to work.

One man, aged 49 from Seacroft, said: ‘There’s a place called Sherburn-in-Elmet and they have tons of work, big industrial estate but there’s no bus service, it’s about 13 miles away. I do not understand why
they build a big estate where there’s no transport, that’s like tough, if you haven’t got a car you can’t have a job.’

The research reveals that proximity to a city centre is no guarantee of securing work. Seacroft and Harpurhey are all within city boundaries and no more than around 5 miles away from city centres, but residents can expect a minimum of 30-minute commutes into the city, without allowing for delays or onward journeys.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has called on the Government, combined and local authorities, transport bodies and partner agencies to work to better improve transport infrastructure in low-income areas.

They’d like to see better models of bus franchising, more planning tools available to ensure that new housing developments are well served by public transport, and that transport issues are better understood by employment services such as Jobcentre Plus.

IA woman aged 59 from Dewbury Moor said : ‘I’ve been offered loads of jobs online [but] by the time I’ve paid for travel expenses to get there, work in a part-time job on a part-time wage, it wouldn’t be worth my while’.

Brian Robson, acting head of policy & research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: ‘It’s unacceptable that large numbers of people seeking work are being locked out of job opportunities simply because of poor public transport connections. The experiences of low-income residents makes it abundantly clear that we must properly invest in transport networks within cities not just between them.

‘Currently unaffordable and unreliable public transport is holding people back from being able to achieve a better standard of living. With more powers being devolved to city and local leaders, now is the time to redesign our transport, housing and economic policies so that everyone can get into work and progress in their careers.’

Read the full report here.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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