Chancellor announces £1bn fund in response to Omicron 

The Chancellor has today (21 December) announced additional financial support for businesses who have been impacted by the latest coronavirus variant. 

Specifically targeting the hospitality and leisure sectors in England, businesses will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, while more than £100m discretionary funding is being made available for local authorities to support other businesses, boosting the existing Additional Restrictions Grant. 

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides local councils with grant funding to support businesses that are severely impacted by restrictions, and that may or may not be in the business rates system. Local councils can determine which businesses to support and determine the amount of funding provided from the ARG scheme. Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these grants. 

It is reported that around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for the grants, which will be administered over the coming weeks. 

In line with the additional funding, the government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) as rising cases of Covid-19 are causing more people to take time off work. 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. 

The full announcement can be viewed on the GOV.UK website, with factsheets detailing eligibility and exceptions now also live. 

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