Effects of Omicron
The Chancellor has indicated that he recognises the impact Omicron is having on businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector, and so has pledged £1 billion to aid these struggling companies.
At what is usually the most profitable time of year, many pubs and restaurants have seen mass cancellations and a huge decrease in footfall. Hospitality UK reported that many businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, no doubt a significant loss at a time when they are usually seeing high returns.
The support available
Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises to supplement their losses in relation to the lack of customers who are taking precautions due to the spread of the new variant. There will also be more than £100 million of discretionary funding available for local authorities to support other businesses.
Furthermore, the government will be reinstating the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) which ended 30th September. This means businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be reimbursed SSP for Covid-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from 21st December, and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from the middle of January 2022.
The government have also allocated £30 million which will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund. This is to ensure more cultural organisations in England can apply for support during the winter and will help organisations such as theatres, orchestras, and museums through to March 2022.
Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for business grants which will be administered by local authorities and should be available in the next few weeks.
Rishi Sunak commented:
“With the surge in Omicron cases, people are rightly exercising more caution as they go about their lives, which is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically the busiest time of the year. That’s why we’re taking immediate action to help with an extra £1 billion in grants to these industries and reintroducing our Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. I urge people across the country to please get boosted now to secure vital protection for yourselves, your loved ones and your communities.”
To sum up, the government allocated funding can be broken down by the following:
- £683 million for targeted grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- £102 million top-up for the Additional Restrictions Grant
- £30 million for Culture Recovery Fund
- £154 million of Barnett funding covering all three above
- Funding for the SSPRS will be additional to these amounts
Further detailed information on the latest COVID-19 economic support package can be found here.