New £1billion Covid support package announced
Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are to be eligible for new grant aid under £1billion of fresh support announced by the Government.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced that small and medium-sized employers will get help to meet statutory sickness payments as part of a raft of new measures.
The Chancellor revealed:
- 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
The Chancellor said that the rise of the Omicron variant meant some businesses were likely to struggle over the coming weeks, prompting the government to provide 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.
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.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “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.”
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 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.
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 (December 21) 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.