A further £30 million is to be made available to English museums, alongside other cultural organisations, through to March 2022, as part of new measures to support businesses affected by the growth of the Omicron variant.

The funding, announced by the Treasury, is part of a new £1 billion support package for businesses hit by Covid, amid concerns over the high transmission of the Omicron variant.

The additional £30m culture funding adds to the £240 million of cultural grant support already allocated this financial year or currently available for organisations to bid for.

In November, the recipients of the latest round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund rescue package were announced.

As part of this support announced today, the devolved administrations will receive around £150 million of funding through the Barnett formula, comprising around £80 million for the Scottish Government, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Also announced is the reintroduce the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS), applicable to employers with fewer than 250 employees.

The scheme will reimburse employers for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee.

Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.

This week, The Natural History Museum was among organisations which have been forced to close due to Covid-19 related illness and absence.

Covid-19 related staff shortages force Natural History Museum to close until after Christmas

Possibility of imminent new restrictions

The announcement comes ahead of reports that new restrictions could be enforced before the year ends. The Mirror and The Times are among publications which have suggested the potential for restrictions similar to Step 2, which could be enforced as early as next week.

Lisa Ollerhead, Director of AIM, said the organisation is urging the DCMS to make any closure plans known to the museum sector as early as possible.

For supply chain firms also hit by Omicron, the government has also added more £100 million to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund for local authorities in England.

Local Authorities will have discretion to allocate this funding to businesses. The Treasury said the funding will be prioritised for those local authorities that have distributed the most of their existing allocation.

Boris Johnson said of the new funding: “With the surge in Omicron cases, people are rightly exercising more caution as they go about their lives, which is impacting our hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors at what is typically the busiest time of the year.”

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