Covid support: What has Sunak announced and which companies can get help?

21 December 2021, 15:02 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 12:29

Rishi Sunak has pledged hundreds of millions for hospitality businesses
Rishi Sunak has pledged hundreds of millions for hospitality businesses. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Desperate business suffering under the impact of the Omicron variant can now access some of a £1bn package of support.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a raft of schemes designed to help companies after Christmas bookings were cancelled and Brits reined in their socialising over Covid fears.

A number of grants were announced on Tuesday afternoon.

It adds to the existing measures including business rates relief for certain firms.

Here is what help is on hand and why the Government has committed more money in the fight against coronavirus.

Read more: Sunak pledges £1bn support to desperate businesses over Xmas as Omicron cases soar

What has Rishi Sunak announced?

The Chancellor came under fire after it emerged he had travelled to California as hospitality businesses announced they were facing devastation. Downing Street said the trip was a long-standing engagement.

Pubs and restaurants complained that, despite not being placed under restrictions, customers were reducing their mixing and cancelling Christmas events after weeks of gloomy warnings from Government experts and scientists.

Although some measures are in place to support businesses after the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, without a formal lockdown and the associated support that could come with that, business owners feared for their enterprises' future.

There are reports that takings in December, the busiest month for hospitality, were down by a half.

Now, Mr Sunak has unveiled a £1bn support package to help different parts of the economy.

Read more: 'We can't survive anymore': Businesses tell LBC of disaster as Sunak goes to California

Will pubs and restaurants get Covid help?

The bulk of the spending - £683m – will go to grants for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector.

Firms can apply for a one-off payment of £6,000 per premises.

Restaurants and pubs were left in the lurch after Omicron fears grew
Restaurants and pubs were left in the lurch after Omicron fears grew. Picture: Alamy

Can retail companies get support?

The Treasury will stump up £102m for councils to distribute, which is designed to help other companies that have been hit by Covid.

That is likely to go to retailers, suppliers and the landlords of space occupied by companies that are struggling.

There have been fears of reduced footfall as people look to limit the chance of being exposed to Omicron ahead of Christmas – when customers would usually be browsing for gifts.

The money will be made available to about 200,000 businesses, with councils administering the cash, which should arrive in the weeks to come.

Do museums and tourist spots get help?

Covid staffing shortages have seen the National History Museum and Edinburgh Castle announce temporary closures over the past few days.

Arts and culture organisations will be allowed to apply for £30m of help through the Culture Recovery Fund.

What about employees who are off work with Covid?

Statutory sick pay for absences caused by coronavirus will be covered by the Government for some firms.

The return of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will allow business with fewer than 250 workers to claim up to two weeks of sick pay per employee. This kicks in from Tuesday.

Do Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get more help?

All three devolved administrations will get a slice of £150m.

Nicola Sturgeon previously emphasised that she wanted support from Westminster for Scottish businesses affected by reduced mixing, as she asked people to limit their gatherings over the festive period.

The Barnett formula will see Scotland get £80m, Wales £50m and Northern Ireland will be sent £25m.