Omicron support for businesses

Government announces £1bn support package for businesses across the UK

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At what is often their most profitable time of year, many pubs and restaurants experienced cancellations and reduced footfall as people responded to the rise in coronavirus cases ahead of Christmas, with Hospitality UK reporting that many businesses lost 40%-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.

Recognising that impact of the Omicron variant on businesses, the government has providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.

Nearly £700m of targeted grants are available for hospitality (defined as accommodation, food & beverage services) and leisure businesses in England.

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 varies by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands: £0-15,000, £15,000-51,000 and over £51,000.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) is also being topped up so local authorities can continue to use their discretion to support other businesses in their area, based on local economic need.

Local authority business grants

Around 200,000 businesses are eligible for business grants which are being administered by local authorities.

Local authorities will have discretion to allocate this funding to businesses most in need. The ARG top up will be prioritised for those which have distributed the most of their existing allocation. This is on top of the £250m of previously allocated funding that remains with local authorities.

To provide continued support to the cultural sector, £30m further funding is available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter to March 2022.

This figure will build on nearly £240m of cultural grant support already allocated this financial year or currently available for organisations to bid for.

Over the course of the pandemic the UK government has provided nearly £2bn to support our cultural sector, with the original £1.57bn round of the Culture Recovery Fund announced in July 2020.

The UK government is working closely with counterparts in the devolved administrations and businesses across all parts of the UK. As part of this support announced on 21 December, the devolved administrations will receive around £150m of funding through the Barnett formula, comprising around £80m for the Scottish government, £50m for the Welsh government and £25m for the Northern Ireland Executive.

This contributes towards the £860m of further funding announced by the UK government in the last week to support the devolved administrations, allowing them to provide additional support to businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as they see fit.

These additional measures will reinforce the existing package of business support, including:

  • business rates relief, meaning that the majority of businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors will see a 75% reduction in their business rates bill across the entire financial year and a new 50% capped business rates relief next financial year
  • a 12.5% reduced rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and protect over 2.4m jobs, until the end of March
  • the £1.5bn Covid Additional Relief Fund for businesses that have not previously had business rates support
  • businesses will be protected from eviction if they are behind on rent on their premises, thanks to the moratorium in place until March 2022
  • access to finance for SMEs through the Recovery Loan Scheme to June
  • Bounce Back Loan repayment flexibility, with borrowers having the option to take a six month repayment holiday, three six month interest-only periods or extend their loan to 10 years, which almost halves the monthly payment
  • support for the aviation and travel sectors, including over £12bn since the beginning of the pandemic, and the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS) until the end of March 2022
  • HMRC will support any business impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through its Time to Pay arrangement, and the Chancellor has asked them to offer businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in particular the option of a short delay, and payment in instalments, on a case-by-case basis, as part of this.

Further guidance

Covid-19 economic support package

Press release on Omicron support