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4 January 2022

Chancellor Announces £1 Billion for UK Businesses Impacted by Omicron Variant

Additional support will be available for businesses severely hampered by the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

The Government has announced a further £1 billion package of support to help businesses with the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Recognising that the rise of infections means some firms will struggle over the coming weeks, the Government is providing new one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England. The aim is to mitigate against losses within the sector, at what is often their most profitable time of year.

Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for these new business grants which will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks. The grants are equivalent to the monthly cash grants provided to hospitality businesses when they were fully closed earlier this year, despite businesses now being still able to trade. ‘Hospitality’ is defined as accommodation, food and beverage services, and leisure premises.

To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those that supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the Government is also awarding an extra £102 million 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.

With a predictable increase in staff absences owing to COVID-19, the Government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS), reimbursing SMEs for up to 2 weeks’ sick pay per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from 21 December 2021, and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January 2022.

In order to shore-up the cultural sector, £30 million of new funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, supporting organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums through to March 2022. Further details on how organisations can access funding will be set out in due course.

These latest financial measures include support for the devolved administrations, which will receive more than £150 million of funding through the Barnett formula, comprising around £80 million for the Scottish Government, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.

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.’

 

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