Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises to help with the wave of cancellations and restrictions expected for the rise of the Omicron COVID variant.
The government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
At what is often their most profitable time of year, many pubs and restaurants have seen cancellations and reduced footfall as people have responded to the rise in cases ahead of Christmas.
Hospitality UK reported that many businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.
Recognising that the rise of the Omicron variant means some businesses are likely to struggle over the coming weeks, the government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
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.
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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.
The government is also giving more than £100 million to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.
Local councils 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.
The government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).
The 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 2 weeks per employee.
Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.