£1bn support fund for businesses most impacted by Omicron

Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

At the same time, another £30m in funding will available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations such as theatres, museums and orchestras through the winter.

It comes after the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 led to a significant drop in trade and bookings.

More than £100m in discretionary funding will also be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

As part of the latest measures, the devolved administrations will receive around £150m to provide additional support to businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as they see fit.

And the UK government will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.

Hospitality businesses have seen revenue fall by as much as 60% during a key period for the sector.

Trade association UKHospitality welcomed the new grants and the release of a £1.5bn package to support the supply chain.

“This is a generous package building on existing hospitality support measures to provide an immediate emergency cash injection for those businesses who, through no fault of their own, have seen their most valuable trading period annihilated,” said UKHospitality’s chief executive, Kate Nicholls.

“It will help to secure jobs and business viability in the short term, particularly among small businesses in the sector, and we particularly welcome the boost to funds for the supply chain and event and business catering companies so badly affected by the reintroduction of work from home guidelines.”