Sector business to receive one-off £6,000 grant as part of £1bn government support package amid Omicron impact: A fresh round of one-off grants for hospitality, of up to £6,000 per premises, has been announced by the government as part of a £1bn package of support for businesses most impacted by Omicron across the UK. 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 Rishi Sunak has also committed to a top up of discretionary grant funding and the release of a £1.5bn package to support the supply chain. The government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (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 two weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today (Tuesday, 21 December) and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January. The rent moratorium remains in place and commercial landlords have been asked to show patience with struggling hospitality tenants. To provide continued support to the cultural sector, £30m of 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. 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 SSPRS. I urge people across the country to please get boosted now to secure vital protection for yourselves, your loved ones and your communities.” 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 £1bn of support, including a new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the SSPRS 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.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a generous package building on existing hospitality support measures to provide an immediate emergency cash injection for those businesses who, through no fault of their own, have seen their most valuable trading period annihilated. It will help to secure jobs and business viability in the short term, particularly among small businesses in the sector, and we particularly welcome the boost to funds for the supply chain and event and business catering companies so badly affected by the reintroduction of work from home guidelines. It is a generous top up emergency fund in addition to previous support and with a commitment from ministers to prioritise hospitality and its supply chain in allocation of funds. There is now a real urgency in getting this funding to businesses so we urge local authorities to prioritise distribution of funds to make sure jobs and businesses are preserved through this difficult period.” British Institute of Innkeeping chief executive, Steve Alton, added: “It is encouraging to see the chancellor once again recognising the unique part that pubs play in both the economy and in every community. The support he has announced is hugely welcomed as our members running pubs across the UK are now struggling to pay the bills with reduced levels of trade. They are facing increased costs through inflation and with most of our members having built up more than £50,000 of pandemic specific debts, they now have extensive debt repayments to be made. Critical to their short term survival is cash flow and this support in the form of cash grants is hugely welcomed. They will however, now need ongoing support particularly with business rates and an extended period of low VAT as their recovery will be significantly extended due to the lost trade from Christmas.” But night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, tweeted: “Support package being announced today. It’s pathetic. Won’t even touch the sides or save jobs. We all need to continue to ramp up the pressure.” From Propel 2022


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