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Sheffield City Council Emergency business grants: Sheffield Council under pressure as only one in three emergency grants are paid out

"Small businesses are really struggling now and timing is critical," says local Green councillor.

Sheffield is below the national average when it comes to paying emergency grant funding to small businesses in response to coronavirus, new figures show.

According to government data, 9,334 businesses have been identified as probable applicants. But only one in three, 3,223, have received the grant as of 19 April compared to a national average of 51%.

In Doncaster and Rotherham almost six out of ten businesses have been provided with grants since the scheme opened, with even higher figures in Leeds and Barnsley.

Douglas Johnson, Green Party councillor for City Ward, accused the Council of mishandling the situation and urged it to speed up the procedure.

"Small businesses are really struggling now and timing is critical," he said. "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."

A couple of days ago Cllr Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at the Council, said: "We know that the business support grants are vitally important in keeping the cash flow going for many small businesses at this time, and we're working very hard to make the process as quick and smooth as possible."

The Council have indicated that the approval process might take up to ten days before payment can be confirmed.

However local business owner Rhys Davies, who owns the Copper Pot cafe on Division Street, applied for the grant on 30 March but only received the payment on 20 April.

"Although I am most relieved to have received my £25,000 business grant from Sheffield City Council, it concerned me how long it took," he said. "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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