A sector-specific extension to the furlough scheme could be announced later this week, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has said.

Speaking on MCA’s virtual event The Conversation, Nicholls said UKH was hoping for an extension to the jobs retention scheme, making it more flexible, and potentially sector specific, though it could be reduced to 60%.

UKH has asked government to commit to giving the hospitality industry access to the furlough scheme for the rest of the year, Nicholls said.

Meanwhile, she said government still needed to step in and act as a broker on rent, as operators face two or three quarters worth of accumulated arrears.

Describing the government’s announcement of the next phase as cautious and still public-health focussed, Nicholls said signalled the start of an evolution of messaging more towards safeguarding livelihoods.

She said: “It’s very positive that [the government] want to work with us to get it right, and we’ll be holding them to that.”

Taking delegates through the latest announcing, she said the Prime Minister’s update did not mean any immediate change for hospitality, but would be critical for an effective reopening later in the year, as it would start to rebuild consumer confidence.

She said support would be needed to allow us to open “safely, securely and sub economically”, as operators predict only reaching 60%-70% of revenues by the end of the year.