With the Omicron variant keeping people at home over Christmas, the hospitality industry suffered fresh blows, with sales falling dramatically in December. To address this, the government announced that grants of between £2,700 and £6,000 per premises (scaled according to rateable value) would be awarded to hospitality businesses. But this was simply too little too late.

For operators in London losing perhaps a quarter of their December turnover, the impact of Omicron on profit is serious. Indeed, the last rent quarter day for many businesses was Christmas Day, when the sector faced a £1.2bn rent bill. A one-off £6,000 cash injection is not enough to help many of these businesses.

With further restrictions possible and significant levels of rent debt still unresolved with landlords, it looks set to be a bleak midwinter for the hospitality industry, unless the chancellor can deliver a more generous present.

Julian Jennings, partner in leisure, Gerald Eve