The latest Government support for businesses impacted by Omicron

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The Local Authority Business Grant, Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and Further Support

We would like to make you aware of some new government schemes that aim to support businesses that are being heavily affected by the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

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

The support measures include:

  • new business grants available for hospitality and leisure premises. The Additional Restrictions Grant 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;

  • Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme (SSPRS) allowing small and medium sized employers to claim the costs of up to two weeks of covid-related SSP
Local Authority Business Grant image

Local Authority Business Grants - Summary:

  • businesses that operate in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, and more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses

  • the government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for coronavirus-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK

  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter

There is also continuing financial support. You can find more information by searching for ‘Omicron support for businesses’ on GOV.UK.

Local Authority Business Grants – full details:

The government has introduced a new grant scheme to support businesses that are experiencing difficulties because of the Omicron variant. E.g., a business that may be impacted by staff absences and lower consumer demand.

Businesses that operate in the Hospitality sector (defined as accommodation, food & beverage services) and leisure premises will benefit from targeted grant support.

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.

Design and eligibility criteria

£1 billion has been allocated for grants for businesses impacted by Omicron across the UK:

Nearly £700 million of targeted grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England:

To be eligible a business must be solvent and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector. For example, a pub; hotel; restaurant; bar; cinema; or amusement park.

Grants are provided per premises and the amount paid is varied by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands: £0-15k; £15-51k; and over £51k. (see table below)

Rateable Value £0-15K £15-51K >£51K
Value of Grant Available £2.7K £4K £6K

Over £100 million of discretionary funding for local authorities in England:

In addition, local authorities in England will receive a further £102 million to their ARG fund. Up to £250 million is still currently with local authorities, which is expected to be distributed.

The £102 million top-up combined with the £2 billon previously allocated to local authorities, 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 local authorities who have distributed their existing allocation. Use of this funding is at the local authorities discretion but is intended to support businesses who are impacted by COVID-19, but may not be eligible for the hospitality and leisure grant.

£30 million made available through the Culture Recovery Fund:

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

Around £150 million for the Devolved Administrations through the Barnett formula, which counts towards the £860 million funding guarantee announced by the UK Government for the devolved administrations in the last week. If additional funding is due to the Devolved Administrations as a result of new announcements, the UK Government will honour that.

Duration of the Scheme:

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

The further funding made available through the Culture Recovery Fund will support the sector until March 2022. Further details on how organisations can access funding will be set out in due course.

Legislation and State Aid:

No legislation is required.
All grants will be subject to the subsidy control allowances. The subsidy control policy will be published as part of the scheme guidance.

Compliance Measures:

Businesses that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made, are not eligible for funding under this scheme.

The government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be recovered, as may any grants paid in error.

Local authorities are responsible and accountable for the lawful use of funds and must be satisfied that all eligibility and subsidy allowance conditions have been fully complied with when making grant payments. To do this, local authorities will be expected to have pre- and post-payment assurance plans in place and undertake a Fraud Risk Assessment.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme - Summary:

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, who have paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to their employees for absences linked to coronavirus-related sickness or self-isolation, could be eligible for support.

Businesses will be able to reclaim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP for an employee who takes time off because of coronavirus, regardless of whether they claimed for that employee under the previous scheme.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – full details:

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, who have paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to their employees for absences linked to coronavirus-related sickness or self-isolation, could be eligible for support.

Businesses will receive repayments at the relevant standard rate of SSP that they paid to their current or former employees for any eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 21 December 2021.

Businesses will be able to reclaim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP for an employee who takes time off because of coronavirus, regardless of whether they claimed for that employee under the previous scheme.
Businesses will be able to make claims from mid-January.

For further guidance, including eligibility and how to make a claim, will be published on GOV.UK in due course.

Design and eligibility criteria

Businesses will be eligible for the scheme if:

1. They are UK-based.
2. They employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021.
3. They had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021.
4. They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP.

The 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.

Duration of Scheme

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

Businesses will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January onwards, using the button below (please be aware this button will take you to the claim form, only once it has been released by HMRC):

This is a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to COVID-19. The government will be keeping the duration of the scheme under review.

Legislation and State Aid:

The legal basis for this scheme will be secondary legislation laid by HMRC under powers provided by sections 39 to 44 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The scheme provides selective aid and could therefore constitute state aid. However, it will come within the Temporary Framework for State Aid for COVID-19 responses adopted by the European Commission.

Compliance measures

Employers must keep records of Statutory Sick Pay that they have paid and want to claim back from HMRC. Employers must keep the following records for 3 years after the date they receive the payment for their claim:

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they said they were off work due to COVID19
  • the employee’s National Insurance number

Time to Pay arrangements

If you’re facing difficulty making a tax payment, HMRC will support any business that has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through their Time to Pay arrangements (TTPA). TTPA allows businesses to pay tax that they owe in affordable instalments.

For businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in particular, the option of a short delay and payment in instalments could be available on a case-by-case basis, as part of this.

You can find out more by following this link on the GOV.uk website to find out more about ‘Time to Pay’ – Click here

Our Support

If you should require assistance with any of the schemes mentioned above, please do contact us on 0113 257 4506 or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you further. We will communicate further guidance on these schemes and any new schemes when they become available to us.