CUMBRIAN business leaders say the latest Government support package doesn't go far enough.

Rishi Sunak has offered a £1 billion support package to businesses hit by Covid restrictions amid concerns over the "eye-wateringly high" transmission of the Omicron variant.

The Chancellor has come forward with additional help for the hospitality and leisure sectors in England following days of urgent lobbying from MPs, firms and industry officials.

It includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the affected sectors in England, which the Treasury expects will be administered by local authorities and to be available in the coming weeks.

The Government also intends to use taxpayers' cash to cover the cost of statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for firms with fewer than 250 employees.

Nigel Wilkinson, Chair of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership's Visitor Economy Sector Panel, said: “I am pleased that Government has recognised the challenges that businesses in the visitor economy are now experiencing and clearly, the extra £1billion of funding is welcome. However, the losses and the impact on cash flow for those businesses is significant and the funds available fall far short of offsetting the financial impact on many businesses.

“Therefore, I would hope that Government will continue to respond positively to the challenges that the sector is facing during this period of great uncertainty.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This package of measures is welcomed - and there looks to be some useful support for Cumbrian businesses – but we do really need to see the detail, in terms of which businesses will benefit and how quickly they can access funding.

“As we don’t yet know what restrictions are on the way, it is extremely difficult to assess what the precise impact of this latest support will be for tourism operators. A massive amount of resource and planning goes into the Christmas and New Year period and businesses rely on this income to see them through the traditionally quieter winter months. So clear direction is now urgently needed on what to plan for.

“The tourism and hospitality industry is currently in a very fragile state and collectively we must do all we can to ensure these businesses remain viable. We are pleased the Government has acknowledged that support is needed, but it remains to be seen whether today’s announcement is enough to see businesses through.”