Rishi Sunak has announced a £1 billion package of support for hospitality and entertainment firms hit by the Covid surge, including one-off grants of up to £6,000 and a statutory sick pay rebate system.
Sunak said he was confident the measures would help hundreds of thousands of businesses. But he added that he would “respond proportionately and appropriately” if the government were to impose further restrictions to slow Omicron.
The grants were equivalent to those provided to hospitality businesses when they were fully closed this year.
But unlike earlier in the pandemic, there will be no extra government help for workers who lose their jobs or have their hours cut. The Treasury said that job vacancies were 50% higher than before the pandemic.
The Treasury is also providing a £30m top-up to the Cultural Recovery Fund – which supports institutions such as museums and theatres –
Hospitality UK has reported that many businesses have lost 40-60% of their December trade, often their most profitable month.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality CEO, said:
“This is a generous package building on existing hospitality support measures to provide an immediate emergency cash injection for those businesses who, through no fault of their own, have seen their most valuable trading period annihilated.
“It will help to secure jobs and business viability in the short term, particularly among small businesses in the sector, and we particularly welcome the boost to funds for the supply chain and event and business catering companies so badly affected by the reintroduction of work from home guidelines.
“It is a generous top up emergency fund in addition to previous support and with a commitment from Ministers to prioritise hospitality and its supply chain in allocation of funds. There is now a real urgency in getting this funding to businesses so we urge local authorities to prioritise distribution of funds to make sure jobs and businesses are preserved through this difficult period.”
Greater Manchester’s Night time economy advisor Sacha Lord though described the measures as pathetic.
“Won’t even touch the sides or save jobs.We all need to continue to ramp up the pressure.”