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Devolved regions to receive emergency on-trade funding, while concern grows in England

Published:  20 December, 2021

Scotland and Wales are to receive additional funding from Westminster to help struggling businesses cope with new Covid restrictions, as England awaits news on further restrictive measures. 

As widely reported over the weekend, nightclubs in Wales will be forced to close after Boxing Day, while Scotland is now enforcing additional Covid measures, including requiring shops and hospitality outlets to reduce crowding and queuing, and erect safety screens and barriers.

As a result, Scotland is being given an additional £220 million of funding by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, while Wales will receive £270m.

Fears over the Omicron wave have led to a mass of cancellations across the hospitality sector in December, putting many jobs and livelihood at risk.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab refused to rule out a Christmas lockdown, ahead of a meeting today (Monday 20 December) where Cabinet will discuss the possibility of new restrictions during the Christmas period. 

Commenting on the escalating crisis, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Trading has already been hugely damaged by the steady stream of pessimistic news following the discovery of the Omicron variant, at a time when hospitality would normally expect to be making a quarter of its annual profits. We know from previous lockdowns that it causes venues to hemorrhage cash. It costs £10,000 to close each site and a subsequent £10,000 per month on overheads, and that was with full furlough and rate relief.”

She added: “Trading levels are so poor that the need for proportionate Government support is already acute, and urgently necessary if businesses, jobs and livelihoods are to be secured. An extension to business rates relief and the lower VAT rate will help longer term planning and budgeting but speedily delivered grants will be vital to short-term business survival. To minimise further damage, it is also crucial that the Government gives as early a signal as possible about whether measures are to be imposed and what they might be, in order to allow businesses to salvage something from Christmas and the New Year.”