The Star champions Sheffield breweries at Downing Street briefing

The government will consider new support measures for two struggling business sectors in Sheffield after The Star championed their plight at the daily Downing Street briefing.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:22 pm

Health secretary Matt Hancock said it was, “tempting to say yes” to calls for a cut in beer duty for breweries and an extension of business support grants to bigger companies adding: “I will take this away and talk to the Chancellor.”

He was responding to questions from business editor David Walsh who used the platform to fight for Sheffield firms.

The #RaiseTheBar campaign promoted by Sheffield BID seeks to increase the threshold for the £25,000 ‘retail, hospitality and leisure’ grant from £51,000 rateable value to £150,000.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock responds to David Walsh. Pic from BBC website.

In Sheffield city centre, this would mean 157 more businesses could benefit from an additional £3.9m of support, and a further 400 across the wider city, saving businesses and jobs.

Walsh then addressed the struggle faced by the city’s many breweries.

He added: “Sheffield is famous for its independent breweries. It has more per capita than anywhere in the country and was enjoying a golden age prior to the crisis.

“The government’s support grants have bought them time, but with no opening date yet for pubs and bars, their very existence is under threat.

“To get them back on their feet, will the government cancel beer duty for six months when they are allowed to restart operations?”

Mr Hancock said: “I understand, especially coming from a small business background myself just how important these questions are to the businesses in central Sheffield and breweries, which have been flourishing right across the country over the last few years, have obviously been very hard hit by social distancing which, by its nature, takes away the ability to go for a pint with friends.

“So I will take this away and talk to the Chancellor. His announcement today of 100 per cent guaranteed loans for small business is another important step in supporting businesses to get through this.

“We recognise the importance of supporting businesses right across the board, whether it’s town centres, or businesses or others who are badly hit by this.

“Supporting businesses is critical because the health and economic impact of the measures are both best served by people staying at home.

“It saves lives but will also get the rate of transmission down as fast as possible which will then allow us to get through this as fast as possible.

“On those two specific ideas it is tempting to say ‘yes’ as health secretary but I need to talk to the Chancellor.”

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