Additional COVID-19 economic support package announced

Insight /  21 December 2021

The government has announced additional economic support to help businesses who have been most impacted by the Omicron variant.

The package includes:

  • a new targeted grant support for hospitality and leisure premises;
  • an increase to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG);
  • additional funding via the Culture Recovery Fund; and
  • the re-introduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).

What are the details of the new support?

New Grant support for hospitality and leisure premises

Hospitality (defined as accommodation, food & beverage services) and leisure premises will benefit from targeted grant support.

Recipients must be solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector.

Examples include:

  • a pub;
  • hotel;
  • restaurant;
  • bar;
  • cinema; or
  • amusement park.

Grants are per premises and the amount paid is varied by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands:

Rateable Value £0-15k £15-51k Over £51K
Value of grant available £2.7K £4K £6K

How do businesses apply for the Grant?

Final application and payment dates for the hospitality and leisure grants and the ARG (below) will be confirmed in further guidance to be published by BEIS.

Additional Restrictions Grant

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) will also be topped up so local authorities (LAs) can continue to use their discretion to support other businesses in their area, based on local economic need.

Over £100 million of discretionary funding will be provided for local authorities in England.

In addition, LAs in England will receive a top-up worth a total of £102 million to their ARG fund. This £102 million top-up, combined with the £2 billion previously allocated to LAs, means that they will have received over £2.1 billion of discretionary grant funding to support businesses in their local area who are experiencing a severe impact due to the Omicron variant.

The ARG top up will be prioritised for those LAs who have distributed their existing allocation. Use of this funding is at the LA’s discretion but is intended to support businesses who are impacted by COVID-19 but may not be eligible for the hospitality and leisure grant.

Culture Recovery Fund

£30 million of further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations in England such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter. This is in addition to the estimated £240 million allocated to cultural organisations so far this year or currently available for applications online.

Re-introduction of Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS)

The government is reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).

This will be a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to COVID-19. The SSPRS will refund small and medium-sized employers’ COVID-related SSP costs for up to two weeks per employee.

Which businesses are eligible?

Employers will be eligible for the scheme if:

1. They are UK-based; and

2. They employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021; and

3. They had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021; and

4. They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP.

Employers will be able to claim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP per employee that has to take time off because of COVID-19. This two-week limit will be reset so an employer will be able to claim up to two weeks per employee regardless of whether they have claimed under the previous scheme for that employee.

How and when can employers claim?

The scheme will be reintroduced so that employers can claim for COVID-related sickness absences occurring from 21 December 2021 onwards.

Employers will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January onwards, using the website here.

If you would like more information about this, or any other employment tax related matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

Lee Muter
Employment Taxes Partner
T: 07810 852 362

Paul Tucker
Employment Taxes Senior Manager
T: 07392 870 199