There is a silver lining for Sheffield's economy, say business leaders
The dark clouds hanging over Sheffield have a silver lining say business leaders as they unveil new plans to kick start the economy.
The Covid-19 Business Response Group was created within hours of lockdown being announced in March and will continue to work during the new Tier 3 restrictions which begin on Saturday.
One of the largest ever meetings of businesses is planned and there is a six point action plan to boost the economy over the coming months.
Alexis Krachai is a director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, one of the directors at the Sheffield Property Association and also runs a business in the city.
He told a Cabinet meeting that when lockdown was announced in March, it became immediately clear that the pandemic was going to have a huge impact on jobs and businesses.
"In a matter of hours, the Covid-19 Business Response Group was created. Business groups across the city have rolled up their sleeves to work in true partnership with the council.
"We have been one team focused on providing relief to businesses and put in place a plan to help our businesses and our economy recover.
"Everyone involved is volunteering their time, expertise and commitment. We are sitting here today as Sheffield faces Tier 3 restrictions. Some will argue that it is too early to be publishing a recovery plan. Businesses are fighting for their lives and need support now.
"There is work to do now to ensure that the £30m from the government is made available to eligible businesses as quickly as possible. I am personally committed to helping our council in Sheffield to get that job done.
"As we grapple with Tier 3 restrictions the plan we have produced will not sit on a shelf."
Mr Karachi said everyone had a role to deliver the plan. "We have a real intent to kickstart a transformation in our economy to make it fairer. We want to shape a stronger, greener and fairer future. The whole city needs to be involved.
"This pandemic presents real and serious challenges to our city but perhaps the dark clouds over Sheffield have a silver lining. We have shown that the business community can work with the council. We must seize this moment to keep working together. Our city needs us to."
Mel Kanarek, a director at Sheffield Digitial, encouraged anyone in the city to read it and welcomed ideas and input.
"Sheffield has an economy worth over £11bn a year. The city is home to 30,000 businesses. How do you produce a business recovery plan for a city this size?
"First, we need to stimulate demand in the local economy. That involves giving confidence to businesses to invest to create new jobs.
"That’s really tough right now but some businesses are hiring people as they continue to grow. We need to give more businesses the confidence to do the same.
"We need to keep our city and district centres safe and secure from the virus. People will still leave their homes and many businesses will remain open. People must feel safe when out and about.
"We need to help more people to follow their dream and start a business. New businesses create new jobs and our plan will make it easier to start a business in Sheffield.
"We need to help people get back to work. Jobs are changing all of the time and everyone needs to be able to access training to help our communities get back to work. This plan focuses on making sure no one is left behind.
"We need to invest more in culture. Culture is not just paintings in a gallery or performers on a stage, it's about how we live our lives.
"It is about celebrating who we are and where we live. We must do more to celebrate communities in Sheffield. It will build confidence, help with mental health and attract visitors back to the city.
"Finally, we cannot stop now. We need a longer-term plan to support the growth of our economy and to make our economy fairer. Our sixth priority is to ensure we start work on a longer-term economic strategy for Sheffield.
"Every city needs a strong economy and Sheffield is no different. A strong economy creates more good quality jobs, helps to improve peoples’ lives and generates tax revenues that fund council services."
As part of the Tier 3 restrictions, which come into force at one minute past midnight on Saturday, October 24, South Yorkshire pubs and bars that do not serve what is described as “substantial meals” must close.
Adult play centres, such as bingo halls, betting shops casinos and soft play centres will also close, and gyms will not be able to hold exercise classes but are allowed to remain open.
The only settings in which households that are not in a support bubble can mix are public parks, beaches, in the countryside, public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments, outdoor sports courts and facilities and playgrounds, subject to the rule of six.
Residents have also been told to avoid travelling outside South Yorkshire or entering another Very High alert level area, other than for work, education or for caring responsibilities or to travel through as part of a longer journey
The guidance also states that residents should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and others should avoid staying overnight in the Very High alert area