£1 billion Omicron business measures are nothing but “lip service” – the Chancellor should have been much bolder

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The £1 billion Omicron business measures are nothing but a gesture and ‘lip service’ to businesses impacted by the Omicron ‘tidal wave’, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Nimesh Shah, CEO at the firm said: “The limited support measures announced by the Chancellor today are a ‘drop in ocean’ when compared to the previous government support packages.”

He added: “The £6,000 per premises grant for eligible businesses offers very little and arguably businesses have already lost more than that during December, as government measures and announcements around Omicron have led to mass cancellation of events and parties in the run-up to Christmas.”

Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises and access to a £100 million discretionary fund through local authorities to support businesses on other sectors, but this is really not enough and is just paying ‘lip service’ to business who have been severely impacted this month.

Nimesh said: “The government points out that the business rates relief and VAT reduction measures for hospitality and tourism businesses remain in place, but the purpose and design of these measures was to support businesses through recovery and not to deal with the current situation which has come about quickly and unexpectedly.

“The message from the government is clear with the pitiful support announced today – that they want to avoid further restrictions to keep businesses open, but the reality is that the government are asking people to behave responsibly and avoiding social settings, meaning business revenues will be severely hit during a crucial trading period.”

He added: “The Chancellor could have been much bolder today without hitting the Treasury coffers too hard, by offering deferral for business rates, VAT and taxes to help cash flow.  Whilst the re-introduction of the furlough scheme was unlikely, the hospitality sector will have no choice but to cut jobs if they continue to see bookings drop-off and government should be aware of that likely result.”

Nimesh said: “The government will want to point to previous substantial support for business, but they are simply not accepting the more difficult environment the sector currently faces.

“If a circuit-breaker lockdown is put in place, the Chancellor has to give businesses the clarity now around the available government support so that businesses can plan accordingly – today’s announcement was a lost opportunity to give that much-needed clarity.”

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