The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced that a bailout package of £1bn will be offered to UK businesses who have been hit by the Omicron crisis. The funding is designed to primarily support the hospitality industry which has lost a staggering amount of trade during what should be one of its busiest periods due to a rise in Covid cases.
Under the new package, eligible businesses will be able to apply for cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises. A total of £683 million pounds has been set aside for these grants which restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres will be able to apply for via their local authorities.
There will also be further funding for businesses outside of hospitality and leisure worth over £100 million. Sunak also announced the government will cover the cost of sick pay for Covid-related absences.
He commented: “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.”
It’s a welcome present just before Christmas, but there are still fears that the support won’t be enough in the long-run, especially given the uncertainty over whether further restrictions will be introduced. The chancellor failed to divulge whether more support would be offered, but said he would always respond “proportionately and appropriately” to the situation.
For now, the focus is on getting businesses who have been hardest hit the support they need quickly. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Now is the time to get emergency cash support to businesses struggling with revenue hit and cashflow squeeze and they will help them protect jobs and keep business afloat.”
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