COVID Update: Government announces £1 billion in support for UK businesses most impacted by Omicron surge

Today, following increasing pressure from the UK’s battered hospitality and leisure sectors, the Chancellor announced further support measures to help shore up the finances of businesses losing crucial Christmas trade through cancelled bookings and reduced footfall on the High Street.

Mr Sunak stated that the Treasury had decided to intervene because ‘the spread of the Omicron variant means that businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time.’

There have been repeated calls for clarity around anticipated restrictions being brought in with Hospitality UK reporting businesses losing between 40-60% of their December trade because of the spread of Omicron.

21st December 2021

What is on offer?

Click here to access the Treasury’s announcement

Details are still emerging but here is a quick overview for business owners seeking support:

  • 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
  • The government will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK – the scheme will be for firms with fewer than 250 employees
  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support theatres, museums, orchestras etc

It’s estimated that approx. 200,000 businesses will be eligible for the new grants, and they are intended to match the cash grants provided to hospitality businesses that were forced to close earlier during the pandemic. There is no suggestion that businesses must be closed in order to claim at this moment in time.

Eligibility criteria

  • Recipients must be solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector e.g. pubs; hotels; restaurants; bars; cinemas; or amusement parks
  • Grants are per premises and the amount paid is varied by rateable value of each eligible premises, in three bands:
    • £0-15,000 – grant available £2,700
    • £15-51,000 – grant available £4,000
    • over £51,000 – grant available £6,000

Phil Mills, who heads up Old Mill’s Food & Drink team comments ‘We welcome these support measures but the region’s businesses across the entire hospitality supply chain also need certainty, right now on whether a circuit break is on the cards.

“Also, in order to create a sustainable environment for the security and growth of the hospitality industry the Chancellor should consider a longer-term commitment to the reduced rate of VAT for hospitality business – a scheme that has ensured businesses remain open and will continue to thrive amidst a raft of other cost pressures.’

Click here for the government’s fact sheet on the local authority business grants

Click here for the government’s fact sheet on the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

For further information we would urge business owners who think that they qualify for this additional support to monitor their local authority website for further details on how to claim or speak to their usual Old Mill adviser.