Additional support will be available for businesses who have been impacted by the Omicron variant, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today (December 21).
Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses
Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
£30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter
Government says that it recognises the rise of the Omicron variant means some businesses are likely to struggle over the coming weeks, and so will provide the one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
At what is often their most profitable time of year, many pubs and restaurants have seen cancellations and reduced footfall as people have responded to the rise in cases ahead of Christmas, with Hospitality UK reporting that many businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.
Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for business grants which will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.
Given the uncertain situation faced by businesses, the government has chosen to provide grants.
Officials say many businesses have more cash in the bank than they did at the start of the pandemic and fewer businesses have become insolvent and vacancies are 50% above pre-pandemic levels.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “We recognise that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time.
“So we’re stepping in with £1 billion of support, including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund.
“Ultimately the best thing we can do to support businesses is to get the virus under control, so I urge everyone to Get Boosted Now.”
To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those which supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the government is also giving a £100 million boost to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.
Local Authorities will have discretion to allocate the funding to businesses most in need. The ARG top up will be prioritised for those local authorities that have distributed the most of their existing allocation.
As increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases means more workers taking time off work, the government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).
The SSPRS will help small and medium-sized employers – those with fewer than 250 employees – by reimbursing them for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
To provide continued support to the cultural sector, £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter to March 2022.