A RESTAURANT manager has welcomed a new emergency package of measures from the Chancellor to help business survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced firms which have furloughed staff will be given a £1,000 bonus to keep workers in jobs, diners will get a discount to support pubs and restaurants and stamp duty will be cut under plans to protect the economy from the coronavirus recession.

He said the jobs retention bonus could cost up to £9 billion if all furloughed workers are retained and warned "hardship lies ahead", but insisted that no-one will be left "without hope".

READ MORE: What the Chancellor has announced to help the economy

Among the measures revealed by Mr Sunak was an "eat out to help out" plan for dining out in August to boost the hospitality sector, with a 50 per cent discount per head from Monday to Wednesday up to a maximum discount of £10 per diner.

He also laid out plans to slash VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20 per cent to five per cent, a tax cut said to be worth up to £4 billion, from Wednesday until January 2021.

The measures have been praised by the manager of a pub and restaurant near Ledbury as he adapts the business after reopening on July 4 when pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses were given the green light to reopen.

Chris Howell, who has been manager at The Oak Inn in Staplow for two years, said trade has been good since the pub reopened on Saturday, but the new measures would help the business even more.

"Luckily because the beer garden is quite special I think we'll be able to cope," he added.

"But from my point of view and what I'm encouraged by is it definitely means we'll have to take on extra staff.

"I've already got somebody in the wings, I've got someone lined up ready to come in and start later on this month and maybe one or two more.

"That's what I'm encouraged by, from my point of view it's excellent."

The business has already adapted after the lockdown, introducing an outdoor cinema and pizza oven, aided by a new head chef and menu.


Meanwhile Mark Bentham, who runs a cafe near Kington in north Herefordshire, welcomed today's announcement cautiously as he questions whether customers are confident enough to return.

While he said the "eat out to help out" initiative was a good idea in theory, he said the majority of his weekday customers are those who would likely be classed as vulnerable and therefore less likely to visit his cafe at Penrhos Court, which he bought in 2016.

"It all helps, but what our overwhelming concern is at this stage is if this will counterbalance the uncertainty, and nervousness frankly, of people looking to eat out," he said.

The cafe – called the Cattleshed – is yet to reopen despite businesses like Mr Bentham's being given the greenlight do so from July 4. He said it was too risky to open the doors and bring staff back from furlough leave if demand isn't there, leading to a "devastating" impact.

Mr Bentham added: "I'm sure as long as hopefully things remain on track and the amount of cases continues to fall, people's confidence will be restored albeit slowly.

"I don't think it's the cost of food, I think it's the concern of visiting a premises with other people there. The offers on the table are very, very welcome, I just don't see they're going to offset the genuine concern of customers."

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce thought today's Summer Statement from the Chancellor would boost confidence and be a catalyst for the economy's recovery.

Chamber CEO Sharon Smith said: “The government measures announced today will boost consumer confidence and power the country’s economic recovery, whilst also addressing the issues young workers are facing.

"It was the worry of many that the effects of coronavirus would force businesses to put the development of younger workers on the back burner, adding to the skills shortage the country is already facing. This announcement will be welcomed by many businesses and local authorities.”

“Businesses will still be looking for answers on how key support they are relying on can continue and what government support will be available after the Job Retention Scheme closes in October which the government will need to address.”