Additional financial support will soon be available to Torbay businesses most in need who are being impacted by the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

It follows an announcement by the Government at the end of last year that around 200,000 businesses across the UK will be eligible for a share of £1billion worth of funding under different funding packages.

We will administer £4 million of one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors. At what is often their most profitable time of year, many pubs and restaurants saw cancellations and reduced footfall as people responded to the rise in cases ahead of Christmas.

We've identified who is eligible for the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG) and have emailed businesses who have previously applied for the funding. Only once you receive this email will you be able to make an application.

Eligible businesses should have received emails by now inviting them to apply. If your business doesn’t receive one, a link to a contact form will appear on our Business Support Grants webpage from today (1 February).

We will also be distributing £1.9 million of COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) which will be awarded through reducing rates bills for businesses that have been most affected by COVID-19 but have not qualified for other rate-relief schemes.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) will open this month. We will distribute a further £174,240 of grants. Previously £4.6 million has been distributed from this discretionary scheme since the start of the pandemic.

Some £30 million nationally will also be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations, such as theatres, orchestras and museums, to apply for support during the winter.

As increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases means more workers take time off work, the government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS). This will help small and medium-sized employers by reimbursing them for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-19-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee.

Cllr Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Torbay Council, said: "Our hospitality and leisure sectors play a pivotal role in our local economy. The new grant scheme, the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and further funding released through the Culture Recovery Fund, will be rolled out over the coming weeks and will help support a truly valued sector. In such challenging times, we are extremely proud of the strength, creativity and resilience shown by our local hospitality and leisure operators."

Cllr Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Tourism, said: "Whilst extremely welcomed, we understand the concerns that this support will not be able to completely recover the loss of revenue experienced during the festive season with the significantly high rates of booking cancellations. We will endeavour to work closely alongside our hospitality and leisure business community to offer support with the resources available."

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