Wednesday, April 15, 2020

News: Call to support businesses that "fall between the gaps"


Sheffield City Region (SCR) Mayor Dan Jarvis MP has called on the Government to provide support for businesses who currently fall between the gaps of their rescue packages in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Mayor Jarvis has written to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, urging the Government to ensure that all businesses across the region are able to access help where needed.

A number of measures addressing business rates and a Job Retention Scheme were announced last month and the Government went on to announce a direct cash grant for the the self-employed of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month.

In South Yorkshire, many businesses are smaller traders or self-employed, and two challenges have emerged since the Coronavirus, putting their survival at risk.

The first is facing small, pop-up firms who do not own the property they occupy, such as coffee shops and independent retailers in business centres, university innovation parks, markets and food courts, and independent co-working spaces, who are missing out on grants.

This is because they are not eligible for grants other businesses receive directly, due to them paying fees for the space they use rather than business rates. Many are also too new to access the scheme offered to self-employed workers – meaning they fall between gaps in Government schemes. This includes businesses operating in places such as Rotherham's Old Town Hall.

The second is self-employed workers in South Yorkshire whose operating profits are too low for them to be eligible for support. These people are in a more precarious position because they are operating in sectors that are lower paid, less secure and less resilient, such as home decorating, beauticians and cleaning. Even those eligible face an unacceptable three-month wait for support to arrive.


Dan Jarvis said: "I am working around the clock to support jobs and businesses across South Yorkshire during this incredibly challenging time for our economy.

"That's why I established the South Yorkshire COVID-19 Economic Response Group to bring the region's major institutions together to plan our economic recovery from the virus.

"The Government has taken substantial measures to try and ensure the survival of businesses. However, we know many firms in South Yorkshire are going to fall through the gaps of support.

"I'm pressing the Government to close the gaps urgently. I believe local leaders are best placed to do this, but we need Government to act quickly where issues arise.

"Every hour matters. Otherwise we risk seeing South Yorkshire small businesses, entrepreneurs and hard-working sole traders going to the wall.

"The Government must ensure their support programmes are robust, accessible and support all businesses who need it."

Lucy Nickson, Vice-Chair of the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership, added: "Across the region, hundreds of sole-traders, self-employed people, and those with pop-up businesses are facing a time of huge uncertainty, with unprecedented challenges ahead.

"It is of immense importance for the government to plug the gaps in their support schemes and make sure that as many businesses as possible survive this crisis, to protect livelihoods and the wider economy."

SCR website

Images: SCR


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