Additional financial support package for businesses impacted by the Omicron variant.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an additional financial support package for businesses impacted by the Omicron variant as follows:

£1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron across the UK

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises.

Given the uncertain situation faced by businesses, the government has chosen to provide grants, which 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.  Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for the business grants which will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.

  • More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses

To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the government is also giving a more than £100 million boost to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.  Local Authorities 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. This is on top of the £250 million of previously allocated funding that remains with local authorities.

  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.  The government is 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.

  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter

To provide continued support to the cultural sector, £30 million 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.

The full announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1-billion-in-support-for-businesses-most-impacted-by-omicron-across-the-uk

You can find factsheets about the financial support here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-economic-support-package

Some key points from the factsheets:

New Business Grants:

  • Hospitality is defined as accommodation, food & beverage services.
  • Recipients must be solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector. For example, a pub; hotel; restaurant; bar; cinema; or amusement park.
  • Grants are per premises and the amount paid is varied by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands:
    • £0-15k = £2.7k grant available
    • £15-51k = £4k grant available
    • over £51k = £6k grant available
  • The ARG top up will be prioritised for those LAs who have distributed their existing allocation. Use of this funding is at the LA’s discretion but is intended to support businesses who are impacted by COVID-19 but may not be eligible for the hospitality and leisure grant.

SSPRS

  • This will be a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to COVID-19. 
  • The SSPRS will refund small and medium-sized employers’ COVID-related SSP costs for up to two weeks per employee.
  • Employers will be eligible for the scheme if: 
    • They are UK-based. 
    • They employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021.
    • They had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021. 
    • They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP. 
  • Employers will be able to claim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP per employee that has to take time off because of COVID-19. This two-week limit will be reset so an employer will be able to claim up to two weeks per employee regardless of whether they have claimed under the previous scheme for that employee.
  • The scheme will be reintroduced so that employers can claim for COVID-related sickness absences occurring from 21 December 2021 onwards. Employers will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January onwards, using this website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-paypaid-to-your-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
  • Employers must keep records of Statutory Sick Pay that they’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.

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