Chancellor announces £1bn support package for hospitality businesses
The chancellor has set out a £1bn fund to help businesses hit by the rise in Covid cases, including the leisure and hospitality sector.
Rishi Sunak announced details of the fund, including cash grants of up to £6,000 per premises for each eligible firm. He said the government would also help certain firms with the cost of sick pay for Covid-related absences.
The chancellor also announced an extra £30m to help theatres and museums.
Sunak said the “generous” new support recognised the situation many hospitality and leisure businesses faced in the run-up to Christmas.
Many hospitality and leisure firms have been hit by a collapse in bookings and reduced footfall as a result of fears over the spread of the Omicron variant.
Some industry figures have welcomed what they described as “unprecedented” support, but others said the measures do not go far enough.
We spoke to business owner Pete Lumber, landlord of gastro pub The Newbury who says they are down more than 80 per cent from bookings and sales cancelled as patrons become more cautious.
“It’s really devastating as a business owner because – like any other pub or restaurant – we rely on December to get us through January and February. What the government has announced today won’t even come close to cover our loses. We will need more continued support through until March at least, and more clarity. Covid is going to be here for some time, what we need to do is look at restructuring our businesses.”
Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the new support would provide “welcome respite” to many firms affected by Covid measures, but warned that more could be needed if restrictions persist or are tightened.
She said: “We are pleased that the chancellor heard our call for additional grant funding for hospitality and leisure businesses,” adding that “clarity and speed” would be paramount to ensure grants are paid out quickly to help firms.
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