December 21st saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer announce a further £1bn in funding to help businesses hit by the ever increasing Covid cases, especially those in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Who is eligible for the grant?

Small businesses like pubs, bars, cinemas and restaurants will now be able to apply for cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises. The Treasury is setting aside £683m for these grants and it will be provided under existing council-run schemes.

Some firms will also have help with covering the costs of sick pay for those employees who fall unwell due to Covid-related absences. The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is being reintroduced, so if a small business has less than 250 employees they are able to claim funds to cover those sick pay costs.

There has also been a further £30m announced in funding for theatres and museums through the existing Culture Recovery Fund.

Why have they announced this grant?

Christmas is traditionally the busiest time of year for many businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector, and with possible further restrictions coming into force, many will lose out on the much needed income in order to survive into the New Year. Many small hospitality and leisure businesses have already suffered from a reduction in foot flow and cancelled bookings all together over fear of the new Omicron variant, and so help is very much needed at this stage. Mr Sunak has self-proclaimed his new support as ‘generous’ and that he recognises the current situation for many business owners in the run-up to Christmas.

What are people’s thoughts on the announcement?

There has been a mixture of response to the announcement, with some saying it’s a welcome addition, with others saying it doesn’t go far enough to help those most at need. Small businesses that aren’t within the leisure and hospitality sector can still apply for some of the funding, but the Chancellor did not say whether any future help will be on its way should Omicron develop further. He stated he would ‘always respond proportionately and appropriately to the situation we face’.

When can you apply?

The Government is yet to announce when you’ll be able to apply and when the payment dates will be, but have said that announcements will be made in the coming weeks. As the grants will be administered through local authorities, small businesses will need to apply via their local council’s website.

How Vantage Accounting can help

Here at Vantage it’s our job to help you run your business successfully from a tax and accounting point of view. When it comes to new announcements from the Government we have our finger on the pulse, and are able to offer our clients support through these testing times, and to ensure they’re making the most from the funding offered. If this sounds like the type of support you need from your accountant, get in touch today to find out how we can help you.