'Other cities will come out better prepared now' - Sheffield’s Covid cash for business is third worst

Sheffield still has £18 million to give out to businesses in need of support due to Covid-19 – which will go back to the government if not spent by the end of this month.

Thursday, 20th August 2020, 12:06 pm

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said the amount they gave out “mirrors many other core cities”.

But when comparing the percentage of money spent with other core cities in England, Sheffield had spent the third lowest out of eight.

Bristol used the most and was one of the councils to get extra funding after giving out its originally allocated amount, others including York, Camden and Reading.

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Coun Shaffaq Mohammed.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he was concerned Sheffield traders were missing out.

He said: “Clearly some places have done better. The council needs to be more proactive, they can’t just wait for people to come to them.

“It’s not the worst but for me it’s about making sure Sheffield is good. It’s disappointing, they should be working right up to the hour to make sure there are as many applications as possible.

"It's poor from the council. Other cities will come out better prepared now."

The money comes from the government’s small business grants fund scheme and the retail hospitality and leisure business grants fund.

Sheffield Council was allocated £113 million in total and as of August 9 had given out £95 million (84 per cent) to 8,031 businesses.

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.

Despite having £18 million left over, the council said it had done all it could to encourage people to apply and 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.

"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."

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 as it comes from older data.

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.”

To apply go to https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/your-city-council/coronavirus-support-for-business

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