The Speaker
Wednesday, 29 November 2023 – 10:54
Photo by Number 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledges £1bn to support businesses affected by Omicron

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the government will set up a £1 billion fund to help businesses hit by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Many businesses in the hospitality sector have been hit hard by the increasing number of COVID cases, as people decide against going out, along with uncertainty about what restrictions may be in place leading to a drastic reduction in bookings.

The fund will make £6,000 available per premises of each eligible hospitality/leisure firm in England, with a total of £683 million being put aside for this purpose. Around 200,000 businesses are eligible for the funding. An additional £102 million will be distributed through local authorities for allocation to businesses most in need.

£150 million will be granted to the Scottish Government to conduct their own relief schemes, with £50 million and £25 million being granted to the Welsh and Northern Irish administrations respectively.

£30 million will be made available to support UK arts organisations, theatres, and museums.

The Chancellor said:

“We recognise that the spread of the Omicron variant means businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors are facing huge uncertainty, at a crucial time … so we’re stepping in with £1 billion of support”

“Ultimately the best thing we can do to support businesses is to get the virus under control, so I urge everyone to Get Boosted Now.”

Reacting to the announcement, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said;

“Support is welcome but we will be going through the details of this announcement to see which business and workers are included and excluded.

“But government have been dragged kicking and screaming here. In fact, the Chancellor was dragged back kicking and screaming from California, when this support should have been announced alongside Plan B. This is a holding package from a government in a holding pattern.”

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