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Sunderland firms impacted by Omicron can now apply for funding

January 24, 2022

Sunderland firms impacted by Omicron can now apply for funding

Sunderland businesses most impacted by the Omicron variant can now apply for new government support grants.

Eligible businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors can apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grants scheme.

Sunderland has also been allocated £260,512 in Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding, which is in place to support other businesses impacted by Omicron - such as those hospitality and leisure businesses without a business rates assessment, gyms and travel agents and those who directly supply the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Following confirmation of the ARG allocation for the city, Sunderland City Council has developed a scheme within the limited funds available to seek to support businesses severely impacted by the variant, which are not eligible for the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

As of last Friday (21 January), eligible businesses can apply for one-off grants from the ARG scheme of up to £2,667, which will be distributed by Sunderland City Council once all applications have been reviewed for eligibility.  This is to enable all eligible businesses who apply by the deadline to be supported. If demand for the grant is greater than the total funding available, grant levels will need to be reduced on a pro-rata basis.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "This funding is vital for local businesses, and although we are disappointed with the limited ARG allocation, we will work hard to ensure grants are distributed to eligible Sunderland businesses as quickly as possible.

"Last year, our teams worked tirelessly to distribute just over £9million of ARG grant funding to provide a lifeline for businesses, and I hope this new allocation of funding will offer support to as many of the businesses who need it most as possible, due to the uncertainty and challenges caused by the Omicron variant."

Between 2020 and 2021, Sunderland received over £9million in ARG funding, the vast majority, other than a £40,000 contingency, was paid out by last summer to businesses hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic and the associated restrictions.

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said: "Many businesses across the city have faced extreme challenges due to the recent Omicron variant and the subsequent reduced footfall as lots of people minimised their social contact over the festive period. This, on top of almost two years of disruption and challenges due to the pandemic, has been extremely tough for some of the city's businesses.

"We're encouraging all eligible businesses to apply as soon as possible, so our teams can get your application processed. If you run a local business, please check our website to see whether you're eligible."

The grant funding is part of a £1bn financial support package announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 21 December 2021, which includes the reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and an additional £30million made available through the Culture Recovery Fund.

Applications for the ARG Omicron funding will be open until midnight on 13 February.

Applications for the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant will be open until and midnight on 18 March. This deadline has been amended based on updated information received from the Government.

Details for the grant schemes and all Covid-19 guidance for businesses and employers available can be found here: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/covid-19business

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