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£700m local authority funding to help businesses impacted by Omicron

The government has awarded councils £700m in funding to help businesses impacted by the Omicron variant.

Businesses across England will be able to tap into the multimillion-pound support package in the coming weeks.

Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors, many of which have seen a decline in footfall and increased cancellations due to the Omicron variant, will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value:

  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above: £6,000
  • Businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000: £4,000
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or below: £2,667

In addition to this, more than £100m worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

Commenting, Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“All through the pandemic we have stood by the side of business to ensure they are supported at every stage.

“The spread of the Omicron variant is presenting new challenges, particularly for the hospitality and leisure sectors, so it’s only right that we are stepping up with an urgent £1bn support package.

“I urge businesses to come forward, engage with their local council and tap into these cash grants, which will help to cover costs and protect jobs as we double down on our efforts to get boosted and defeat this virus.”

The grant funding forms part of a £1bn government support package, which includes an additional £30m for the Culture Recovery Fund and the reintroduction the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak added:

“We know the Omicron variant has hit our hospitality and leisure businesses, which is why, as we have throughout the pandemic, we stepped in to help.

“From today, local councils will be able to distribute this £1bn package of support to the hundreds of thousands of pubs, restaurants and theatres in need, protecting the millions of people they employ.”

Businesses eligible for grants are those that offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premise in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors.

This includes businesses whose main function is providing a venue for the consumption and sale of food and drink, those that provide facilities linked to recreation and entertainment, as well as businesses whose main premise is used for holiday accommodation.

Other businesses impacted by Omicron, such as those that supply the hospitality and leisure sectors as well as personal care services, are also able to apply for grants through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

The government has allocated £102m to the ARG fund for local authorities in England, with councils having discretion to allocate this funding to businesses most in need.

As well as this, the Business Secretary has written to local authorities who have more than 5% left over from previous ARG funding rounds, instructing them to disburse their remaining funding.

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