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Austen Shakespeare

Sunderland City Council plans to boost Omicron hit businesses with new fund

Funding will be available to help Sunderland businesses most impacted by the Omicron variant.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £1bn financial support package, including two schemes that will be administered by local authorities. Eligible businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors like pubs and restaurants will be able to access one-off grants of up to £6k per premises.

To support other businesses impacted by Omicron – such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors – the Government is giving a further boost to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.

During 2021, Sunderland City Council received over £9m in ARG funding, the majority of which was paid out to businesses hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic and the associated restrictions with less than £45k remaining available to allocate. The Government has advised that the ARG top up will be prioritised for those local authorities that have distributed the most of their existing allocation.

The council is now awaiting detailed guidance from the Government and confirmation of Sunderland’s new ARG allocation before providing further information on how the funding will be administered and how businesses can access this much needed support.

Peter McIntyre, Executive Director of City Development at Sunderland City Council, said: “Businesses across the city have faced extreme challenges and uncertainty since the start of the pandemic. When support was available, we worked tirelessly to ensure funding was distributed to provide a lifeline to city businesses as quickly as possible.

“We recognise the challenges now faced by businesses…and we will continue to work hard to ensure that, as soon as we have the guidance and funding allocation from Government, we can get to work ensuring this additional funding is allocated to eligible Sunderland businesses as quickly as possible.”

The Government has also announced it will reintroduce the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, meaning businesses with fewer than 250 employees can claim back the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee.

A further £30m will also be made available through the existing Culture Recovery Fund for cultural organisations across England.

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