Simon Smith FCCA, details the government support available to businesses hardest hit by the latest Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause less severe disease however, it's improved transmissibility has come at a serious cost to many businesses.
The discovery of the variant in late 2021, and the lack of data on it at the time, led to the government advising people to work from home and reduce social contact to help prevent it circulating.
This has had a significant impact of many businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors where custom has dropped massively. According to Hospitality UK, many businesses in the trade lost up to 40-60% of sales in December 2021.
This hit at what is usually the busiest and most profitable time for these organisations over the festive season. It leaves them in potentially dire straits having also endured lockdowns earlier in the pandemic. If you find yourself in this situation, thankfully the Chancellor has set up a billion-pound fund, through the Omicron hospitality and leisure grant, to support the firms that have been particularly hard hit.
In this post we detail what the support is and how to access it. Also, of note, Rishi Suank isn't ruling out further measures in the future depending on how the situation with variants transpires.
1. Who is eligible for support?
A grant has been made available in England for the hospitality and leisure industries. The government estimate that 200,000 businesses will be eligible. To qualify your business needs to:
Offer in-person services
Provide your main services and activities in a fixed rate-paying premises
Trade in the hospitality, leisure, and accommodation sectors
Not be in administration, insolvent, or struck off the Companies House register
Not exceed the permitted subsidy allowance, see here for details
Not on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) ratings list
Some support is also going to businesses that supply the hospitality and leisure trade on condition that:
Your business isn't in administration, insolvent, or has been struck off the Companies House register
There is also help for small and medium businesses struggling to cover the sick pay of people isolating due to positive COVID tests. You can claim this if:
You have paid your employee's sick pay
Your employee is eligible for sick pay due to COVID-19
You have fewer than 250 employees across all your PAYE payroll schemes
2. Details of what exact support is available and how to apply
The one-off Omicron hospitality and leisure grant amounts to £6,000 per premise subject to eligibility. To apply, click here.
Suppliers to these trades, who have been hit by Omicron cases will also be able to apply for an Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). The government have set aside £100m for this already established scheme which is administered through local authorities.
It is up to local councils to determine which businesses receive support and the amount of funding through the ARG scheme. Click on this link to find your local council and commence your application.
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees where they have been hit by large numbers of people off with COVID, the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has been re-introduced.
This reimburses businesses that have paid statutory sick pay to employees who have been off ill for a maximum of 2 weeks. Statutory sick pay is the minimum amount you can pay an employee, currently standing at £96.35 per week, if they're too unwell to work. You will be able to make claims for this from mid-January.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:
Flexible, or zero-hour contracts
Fixed term contracts up to the date the contract finishes
Claims need to have been submitted or amended on, or prior to, 31 December 2021.
The government has also added £30m to the Culture Recovery Fund to assist theatres, museums, and other cultural centres through to March 2022.
You'll need to apply for support through your local authority or the Arts Council as they are responsible for handling and distributing the money in the fund.
The reduced VAT rate of 12.5% remain in place for hospitality and tourism organisations until the end of March 2022
If you're behind on rent they you can't be evicted from your premises until March 2022
The content of this post was created on 06/01/2022.
Please be aware that information provided by this blog is subject to regular legal and regulatory change. We recommend that you do not take any information held within our website or guides (eBooks) as a definitive guide to the law on the relevant matter being discussed. We suggest your course of action should be to seek legal or professional advice where necessary rather than relying on the content supplied by the author(s) of this blog.