BREAKING: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces £1 billion fund for hospitality
As the hospitality industry comes to terms with an avalanche of cancellations in the face of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £1bn fund of cash grants for eligible businesses.
Reports have been circulating for some time now about the astonishing levels of Christmas booking cancellations that venues have been forced to contend with, as Covid infections once again spiral out of control. Chef Tom Kerridge wrote in a piece for the Guardian that just one of his restaurants had seen 650 cancellations in a six day period.
Now, amid an ever-growing clamour for hospitality businesses to receive further financial support from the government, Sunak has announced a new £1bn fund that will provide cash grants of up to £6,000 per eligible premises.
He also revealed that the government would help some firms with the related costs of sick pay due to Covid absences among staff.
Sunak said the new measures would help business during the current situation, which is “very difficult, especially for those in the hospitality industry”.
“I know the current situation is very difficult especially for those in the hospitality industry so today we are announcing three new measures to help people and businesses,” he said.
“Firstly we are announcing a billion pounds in financial grant support which means eligible hospitality companies will be able to claim a cash grant worth up to £6,000.”
A £30m fund to top up the government’s arts recovery was also announced, while the Chancellor said the statutory sick pay rebate scheme would be reintroduced.
“Taken together, I am confident that these measures will help hundreds of thousands of businesses and the millions of people that they employ.”
Sunak said that additional financial help would be considered in line with any new restrictions being imposed.
Amid calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “think carefully before you go” out to socialise, and Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty telling people not to “mix with people you don’t have to,” hospitality firms have been crippled by a lack of footfall and a slew of booking cancellations.
There have been many calls for the government to provide clarity on further Covid restrictions, something Boris Johnson yesterday said was still under review.