£1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron across the UK

Additional support will be available for businesses who have been impacted by the Omicron variant, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has announced.

Recognising that the rise of the Omicron variant means some businesses are likely to struggle over the coming weeks, the government is providing 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.

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.

To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the government is also giving a more than £100 million boost to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.

Local Authorities will have discretion to allocate this 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. This is on top of the £250 million of previously allocated funding that remains with local authorities.

The Government has confirmed that:

  • businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises,
  • more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses,
  • the Government will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for small and medium-sized employers,
  • £30 million will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling cultural organisations to apply for support during the winter

The Government's full announcement can be found here .

Grants will be available to solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality (defined as accommodation, food and beverage services) and leisure sector.

The grants payable will depend on the Rateable Value of the business premises:

Rateable Value Grant amount payable
Up to £15,000 £2,700
£15,001 to £50,999 £4,000
£51,000 and over £6,000

Regrettably, no further details about this announcement have been made available to us, and we are still awaiting the Government's guidance about how this scheme will be administered and any related qualifying criteria.

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.

This figure will build on nearly £240 million of cultural grant support already allocated this financial year or currently available for organisations to bid for.

We ask that you do not contact us about this grant scheme, as no further information is available until at least 4th January and our staff are unable to help with enquiries at this time.

As soon as information becomes available, including eligibility criteria and any related application process, details will be made available here.

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