Sheffield Greens hit out over delays to grants to small businesses urgently

21 April 2020

New figures show that Sheffield lags behind other Yorkshire authorities when it comes to paying out grant funding to businesses in the lockdown.

Councillor Douglas Johnson Sheffield has been allocated £113 million emergency grant funding for small businesses but has paid out only a third of the grants (34.5%).

Doncaster (57%) and Rotherham (59%) are ahead of the national average (51%) and Barnsley has paid out 77% of its grants.

Leeds has managed to pay out 62% of its grants, through nearly 8,000 payments, compared to Sheffield’s 3,223 awards.

Cllr Douglas Johnson, Green Party councillor for City Ward, said, “Small businesses are really struggling now and timing is critical.

"It is absolutely vital for Sheffield City Council to get these payments out to small and, independent businesses and social enterprises, particularly small shops and cafes, at the very earliest they possibly can.

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The Government promised that local authorities would simply contact eligible businesses and pay them.

However, the Council now says the government is requiring extra checks on businesses and that businesses must apply first.

The council says over a third of businesses have still not applied so it is really important that business-owners make their claims so they can get the money they are owed.

“I hope the Council has now resolved these problems. They must now be able to pay out the remaining grants very soon.”

Rhys Davies, who owns the Copper Pot café on Division St, applied for the grant on 30th March, after originally being told the council would write to businesses automatically about the grants. The payment was received on 20th April. He said,

“Although I am most relieved to have received my 25k business grant from Sheffield City Council, it concerned me how long it took. Friends of mine with businesses in other cities received theirs weeks before me. As we were unable to trade, cash flow was a major concern.

"The department dealing with the grant did nothing to reassure us that we were getting the money so the stress on mental health could have easily been avoided by being open and honest. Let’s hope they speed up for the companies still waiting and learn from this in future.”

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