The Budget is arguably the most important day in the history of the hospitality sector, with Sunak’s support set to either provide “desperately needed hope” or “a single, devastating blow,” Loungers chairman Alex Reilley has said.

Writing in Business Live, Reilley, who has been a vocal advocate for the sector throughout the crisis, argued that what the Chancellor says and does in today’s announcement (3 March) will demonstrate the importance Government places on the survival of a large proportion of the sector, “and whether the loss of thousands of hospitality businesses and hundreds of thousands more jobs will just go down as regrettable collateral damage.”

Speaking ahead of the news that furlough will be extended until September, Reilley said the sector will need more than an extension of existing support measures, and that it needs “meaningful measures” to ensure businesses can survive and have a future.

Though furlough has been “amazing for our employees,” he argued that the need for businesses to support thee scheme without any revenue is a “huge ask”, especially when many haven’t traded since 4 November when they moved from lockdown into tier 3.

He continued: “The sector has felt increasingly marginalised by a Government that simply doesn’t feel the need to listen. We hope the chancellor rediscovers some of the affection he showed towards the sector back in June last year and throws it the lifeline it so desperately needs. He needs to provide enough support to enable hospitality to survive, heal and repair.

“Everything hinges on this Budget statement. Many hospitality businesses are in the Last Chance Saloon – it is the busiest bar in town.”