Many Sheffield businesses on “life support” and may not survive to recovery, warns council boss

Sheffield Council’s director of city growth has warned that many of the city’s businesses are on “life support” and may not make it to recovery.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 12:30 pm

Edward Highfield presented an update on the impact of Covid-19 on Sheffield businesses in a recent meeting of the economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny committee.

He said: “Overwhelmingly the big feedback is around cash flow, so a lack of demand and footfall, reduction in sales, social distancing or closures affecting their ability to trade. Ultimately cash being the big issue.

“While the grant schemes are welcome, a lot of businesses are on life support in effect – they are being kept alive by grant funding and by the furlough scheme. The big question is what happens when furlough ends and a big concern that businesses who are probably just surviving just at the moment might not be here when the recovery starts and all the knock-on consequences that will mean.”

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Sheffield Town Hall

Mr Highfield said footfall was down by 72.4 percent compared to this time last year and that this was similar to the national average which is down 72.7 percent but slightly higher than the North and Yorkshire average of 69.2 percent.

In terms of cash flow, that they know of, 44 businesses have worsened to critical levels, 59 have worsened significantly and are using cash reserves to meet costs, 50 have worsened somewhat but remain manageable, 18 remained the same and just seven have improved.

On Monday the government announced a roadmap for easing restrictions but many businesses still face months more of closure.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.