|The Chancellor has announced a £1bn support package including grants for the hospitality sector and a sick pay rebate scheme as omicron variant spreads
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.
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.
To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the government is also giving more than £100m 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 £250m of previously allocated funding that remains with local authorities.
Time to Pay
The government also said that HMRC is ready to 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.
Statutory sick pay rebate scheme (SSPRS)
As increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases means more workers taking time off work, 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 two weeks per employee. Businesses will be eligible for the scheme from 21 December and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.