Rishi Sunak has announced an additional £1bn in financial support for the hospitality and leisure sectors, with every business able to claim a one-off cash grant of £6,000.The Treasury is also providing a £30m top-up to the Cultural Recovery Fund - which supports institutions such as museums and theatres - and reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which allows small and medium-sized companies to claim compensation from the government for the cost of their employees' sick pay.The chancellor said he is taking the measures due to the current situation being "very difficult, especially for those in the hospitality industry" as coronavirus cases continue to rise steeply.People drinking outside a bar in Soho, London, where new restrictions have come into force to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.
Many pubs and restaurants have been hit hard by mass cancellations as coronavirus cases rise
It comes amid reports that further restrictions could be introduced in England over the festive period.
Many pubs and restaurants have been hit hard by mass cancellations amid fears over the spread of the new Omicron variant.Following guidance to work from home and to prioritise social engagements, offices in major cities have emptied out and Christmas parties have been cancelled, hurting hospitality businesses.Last week, Mr Sunak came under fire for failing to act swiftly to offer support to businesses hit hardest by this new COVID slowdown.Mr Sunak cut short his trip to the US to hold more talks with a range of hospitality and business organisations including peri-peri chicken restaurant Nando's and brewery giant Greene King in response to the fresh COVID crisis on Friday.
Three new measures to help businesses
Hospitality UK has reported that many businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.
Announcing the new economic support package on Tuesday, the chancellor said his Treasury have responded "generously" to a "difficult" situation.
"I know the current situation is very difficult especially for those in the hospitality industry so today we are announcing three new measures to help people and businesses," Mr Sunak said.
£6,000 cash grants
"Firstly we are announcing a billion pounds in financial grant support which means eligible hospitality companies will be able to claim a cash grant worth up to £6,000."
Top-ups for theatres and museums
The chancellor has also announced a "£30m to top up our successful cultural recovery fund to support institutions like theatres and museums".
"And lastly, we are reintroducing our statutory sick pay rebate scheme so that small and medium sized companies can claim compensation from the government for the cost of sick pay for their employees."Taken together, I am confident that these measures will help hundreds of thousands of businesses and the millions of people that they employ."The chancellor added that he will act accordingly when asked if additional financial help could follow if more restrictions are imposed.