One last push to give away £18m Covid cash to Sheffield businesses - or government takes it back

Businesses are being urged to apply for financial support before the government takes the money back.

By Molly Williams
Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 2:16 pm

The council was allocated £113,068,000 from the small business grants fund scheme and the retail hospitality and leisure business grants fund.

As of August 9, the most recent data available, the council has given out £95m to help 8,031 businesses, leaving more than £18 million unspent.

Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, announced in July that any of the funding not spent by August 28 will go back to the government, meaning Sheffield business owners could miss out.

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Coun Shaffaq Mohammed

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he warned of this months ago.

He added: “There is no way they are going to be able to give out £18 million between now and the 28th.

“It’s the thing I was fearing the most, that money coming to Sheffield is not being spent when other places have already spent their money.

"They have to be more proactive, you just can't wait for people to come to you."

The council said it has done “all it can” to encourage owners to apply and that it was giving a final push before the deadline.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said: “Covid-19 business grants have been invaluable to many businesses in our city who have faced challenges during the pandemic.

“We have worked hard to distribute the majority of our business grants funding to eligible businesses in Sheffield and our advisers have been on hand to provide advice and guidance to businesses when applying.”

The government said Sheffield Council estimated the total number of eligible businesses in Sheffield to be 9,334, which would mean there are still 1,303 eligible businesses yet to receive the funding. But the council said these estimates are likely inaccurate.

Coun Iqbal added: “It is looking increasingly likely that there is not that amount of eligible businesses in Sheffield so it may be impossible to ever get to 100 percent.

“We have emailed and written directly to any remaining businesses we feel may be eligible to apply and would strongly encourage anyone who feels they might be eligible to apply before the deadline.”

He also said they would distribute all of the £5.5 million Covid-19 discretionary grant funding for those unable to apply for other grants and added that they offer a range of support alongside any grant, including free pavement cafe scheme, business rates holiday and rent relief but only if people apply for it.

To apply, click here.

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