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The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced a new £1bn support package for businesses most impacted by the highly transmissible Omicron variant that is sweeping across the UK. The biggest single measure is the re-introduction of one-off grants of up to £6,000 for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors (in England) many of whom have seen their seasonal trade hugely impacted by this latest COVID-19 variant. It is thought that some 200,000 businesses will be eligible for these new grants.
The main support measures announced on 21 December 2021 are as follows:
- Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
- £102 million top-up for discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses outside the hospitality and leisure sectors.
- Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. This applies to businesses with less than 250 employees for up to 2 weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from 21 December and 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.
The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive an additional £150m through the Barnett formula to help offer similar measures. This will be allocated with around £80 million going to the Scottish Government, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.