Witnessing that the increase of the Omicron strain of the Covid-19 stated many businesses is certain to face a struggle over the upcoming weeks, Rishi Sunak who is the UK Chancellor on Tuesday stated an additional GBP 1-billion package to fund one-off grants of up to GBP 6,000 per premises for businesses in England in the hospitality and leisure sectors.
Many pubs and restaurants have witnessed cancellations and reduced footfall as people have replied to the increase in cases ahead of Christmas, with Hospitality UK stating that several businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.
Around 200,000 businesses shall be allowed for business grants, that will be administered by local authorities and shall be available in the upcoming weeks.
“We recognize that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty”, at a crucial time, Sunak stated.
“So we’re stepping in with GBP 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”, he mentioned.
Given the situation that is uncertainly faced by businesses, the UK government stated it has declared to provide generous grants, that are equivalent to the cash grants provided monthly to hospitality businesses when they were closed fully earlier in 2021, despite businesses still being able to trade.
“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”, Boris Johnson who is the British Prime Minister stated.
“That’s why we’re taking immediate action to help with an extra GBP 1 billion in grants to these industries and reintroducing our Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS)”, he further said.
The SSPRS will certainly help small and medium-sized employers with less than 250 employees by reimbursing them for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for absences related to COVID, for up to 2 weeks to every employee. Firms shall be permitted for the scheme from Tuesday, and they will be allowed to make claims retrospectively from the middle of January 2022.
Local authorities shall have the discretion to allow this funding to businesses most in need. The ARG top-up shall be prioritized for those local authorities which have distributed the maximum of their existing allocation. For the cultural industry, GBP 30 million of funding further is to be made available for theatres, museums, orchestras, etc facing cancellations.
The UK Treasury stated that the effectiveness of government policies to help the economy through the pandemic and the success of businesses in viewing to adapt states the economy is in a different place now than it was at the start of the pandemic.
Few businesses have become insolvent, with insolvencies going almost 25% lower than pre-pandemic in hospitality, and vacancies are 50% above levels of pre-pandemic.