Hospitality bosses in Cumbria say government package 'fails to address' problems in the industry

Video report by Ryan Dollard

Hospitality bosses in Cumbria are welcoming financial support from the government, but say it doesn't go far enough, as the industry is hit by the rise in Omicron infections.

Venues haven't been forced to shut, but many are staying at home rather than risking spending Christmas alone in isolation

This lunchtime, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced Omicron-hit hospitality businesses will be able to claim up to £6,000 cash grants and companies can receive compensation for employees' sick pay, as part of a new support package.

But many pub landlords and restaurateurs don't feel today's announcement is well targeted.

James Hill runs three restaurants in Cumbria and says it fails to address the central problem business owners like him are being hit by.

What exactly does the new Omicron financial bailout include?

  • "Eligible" hospitality and leisure companies can claim one-off cash grants worth up to £6,000 per premises. It is understood that all hospitality and leisure businesses can apply, as long as they can prove they have been "impacted by Omicron". It is not yet clear how businesses will be asked to prove how they have been impacted.

  • Small and medium-sized companies - those with less than 250 employees - can be reimbursed by the government for the cost of statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks per employee. Firms are eligible for the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) from today and will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.

  • A £30 million boost to the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations in the arts, such as theatres, museums and orchestras through the winter until March 2022.

  • Local authorities in England will also received a more than £100 million boost via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) . Each local authority will have discretion to allocate this funding to businesses most in need.

  • As part of the package, the Scottish Government will receive an additional around £80 million in funding, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.

When asked if businesses could count on more support amid uncertainty around the prospect of further Covid restrictions being imposed, the chancellor replied: "I will always respond proportionately and appropriately to the situation that we face, people can have confidence in that".

However, he would not be drawn on how likely it is that more measures will come into effect during the festive period and said data will constantly be kept under review.