Weekly Digest – 12 January 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Over £700 Million New Grant Fund for Businesses Impacted by Omicron

Businesses in England most impacted by the Omicron variant will be able to tap into a new £700 million support package in the coming weeks.

Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value:

  • businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above: £6,000
  • businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000: £4,000
  • businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or below: £2,667

In addition, more than £100 million worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

Companies Optimistic About 2022 Outlook

Corporate leaders are planning to expand operations and increase investment in 2022, according to three surveys published on Monday.

The main driver of planned higher investment this year was the expectation of strong UK and global demand for their company’s goods and services. According to Deloitte, the senior executives surveyed also expected their company’s links to the EU to decline as the new barriers to trade from Brexit continued to bite.

However, these challenges were a lesser concern than labour shortages, the pandemic, climate change, and higher inflation.

Concerns about labour shortages were also evident in Make UK’s survey of the manufacturing sector. Meanwhile, a slightly more downbeat assessment of the business environment came from BDO, as its monthly indicators of business optimism and output fell in December due to the Omicron variant. However, it’s important to note that both indicators were still higher than their average levels.

Government Advisers Recommend Against 4th COVID-19 Dose

Government advisers have recommended against giving a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to nursing home residents and people over 80 because data shows that a third shot offers lasting protection.

Instead, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised the government to focus on giving a third dose to as many people as possible to boost protection against the Omicron variant.

Former Teachers Signed Up to Support Face-to-Face Learning

Initial data from around 10% of supply agencies showed that 485 former teachers have signed up to temporarily return to the profession and support face-to-face learning. Some teachers were already placed back in the classroom during the first week of term, while a further 100 Teach First alumni have also expressed interest in supporting the workforce.

Safety measures remain in place in schools, colleges, and universities, including better ventilation, testing, and good hygiene. Older students and staff are also required to wear face coverings in the classroom until the review on 26 January.

New Laws to Strengthen National Security

The National Security and Investment (NSI) Act came into effect on 4 January 2022. This means the government will be able to scrutinise and intervene in certain acquisitions made by anyone, including businesses and investors, that could harm the UK’s national security.

The government has published comprehensive guidance to help businesses and investors to understand their obligations under the new rules.

£1 Billion Support for UK Businesses Impacted by Omicron

The government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England. More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

The government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. To enable more cultural organisations to apply for support during the winter, further funding amounting to £30 million will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund.

Deadline Extension for Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Scheme

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed that it is proposing a 12-month extension to the non-domestic RHI’s application deadline, moving the date from 31 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.

Also set to be extended are the second and third allocations of the scheme’s tariff guarantee, which will allow organisations to secure a fixed tariff before their installation is commissioned and accredited.

New Laws and Code of Practice to Resolve Commercial Rent Debts

From 25 March 2022, new laws introduced in the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, will establish a legally-binding arbitration process for commercial landlords and tenants who have not yet reached an agreement, following the principles in the Code of Practice.

The new laws will be implemented in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland will have the power to introduce similar legislation. The Commercial Rent Bill will apply to commercial rent debts related to the mandated closure of certain businesses such as pubs, gyms and restaurants during the pandemic.

Cold Weather Payment Scheme

From 1 November 2021, households have become eligible for the Cold Weather Payment scheme which involves a weekly reduction on their energy bills.

You can receive this payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. Eligible individuals will get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 1 and 31 March 2022.

£500 Million Plan for Jobs Expansion

Workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed individuals over 50 years old will be supported back into work as part of more than £500m expansion of the government’s Plan for Jobs. People earning the lowest wages will also benefit and existing schemes targeting young people will be extended into next year as part of the new package.

Starting in April 2022, the Government is enhancing its programme of support for workers on Universal Credit.

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