THE UK Chancellor has been scolded by a union for being “missing in action” after it was revealed he was in California as businesses brace themselves for a tough Christmas.

The Daily Mirror reported that Rishi Sunak was on a four-day official trip to America just as hospitality firms face mass cancellations from customers.

The Treasury says it was a long-planned event and it is understood the Chancellor will be meeting industry leaders from the tech and investment industries.

But the trip coincides with a warning from England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who urged people to “de-prioritise” social events amid surging cases of the Omicron Covid variant.

READ MORE: Treasury admits 'additional' funds to fight Omicron come from existing pledges

And it comes just days after Nicola Sturgeon expressed her disappointment that Covid funds from the Treasury were not new but advances on existing funds.

Speaking about the Treasury cash, the First Minister said: “Each of the four UK governments is responsible for protecting public health in their own country. But only when UKG takes decisions for England is funding triggered, leaving the rest of us trying to protect health with one hand tied.”

The Scottish Government announced new guidance last week including limiting social interactions to three households and Public Health Scotland urged Scots to cancel their Christmas parties.

Since then, the hospitality sector has pleaded for support after facing “non-stop cancellations”.

But the Chancellor has been blasted by those representing the industry for leaving the country just as calls are being made to compensate struggling firms.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told The Mirror: “The Chancellor is missing in action.

The National: The hospitality industry is calling for more government supportThe hospitality industry is calling for more government support

"The Chancellor should be stood next to the PM, announcing help to pay wages, save jobs and stop businesses going to the wall.

"He should introduce a permanent short-time working scheme - like furlough - and provide additional support for hard-hit sectors like travel, hospitality, retail and the arts.

“Otherwise thousands of workers will face a miserable Christmas.”

It’s understood Sunak has a holiday home in Santa Monica, where he regularly holidays.

He met his wife Akshata, the daughter of an Indian billionaire, while studying at Stanford University in California and lived there for a number of years.

The National: Businesses are facing mass-cancellations in the run up to Christmas Businesses are facing mass-cancellations in the run up to Christmas

Now, Sunak faces accusations of “leaving workers to fend for themselves”.

The SNP's Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said: "Rather than taking steps to strengthen support and fill the gaps in measures to help businesses and workers at this crucial time, the Chancellor is instead literally out of office thousands of miles away.

"Businesses are calling out for measures to help them navigate through this challenging period - firms are facing countless cancellations, many are being pushed into hardship and jobs are on the line.

"It is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.

"The Chancellor must step up and heed calls to bring forward financial support to ensure businesses are not pushed over the brink and workers are not out of their jobs this Christmas. 

"Crucially, it cannot be the case that funding is only triggered when relating to public health decisions in England. This only holds back the ability of devolved governments to properly protect jobs, lives and the NHS.

"We are in extremely challenging times, but a system is required that supports the public health decisions of each devolved government - not one that leaves them beholden to decisions in only one part of the UK."

James Murray, Labour's shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "The Chancellor will have known for days that new guidance may come into place, but he still chose to leave our country's businesses and workers to fend for themselves.

"It's unbelievable that instead of putting British businesses first that he's out of the country."

READ MORE: Scots industries call for aid as Omicron rules set to hammer Christmas profits

Sunak's spokesperson said: “It is a work trip where he is conducting Government business and has a packed schedule of meetings and round tables”.

A Treasury spokesperson added: “As he has done throughout the pandemic, the Chancellor is closely monitoring the impact of the virus on the economy - and particularly the hospitality sector which is why he's meeting with representatives from the industry today.

“Our £400 billion Covid support package will continue to help businesses well into spring next year and of course we will continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus.

"To keep safeguarding our economic recovery and the lives and livelihoods of the British people our priority is now to make sure everyone has the opportunity to ‘Get Boosted Now’."