THE chancellor’s announcement of a VAT cut and subsidised dining out has been greeted as “brilliant” by Dorset’s hospitality trade.

But there are complaints about a lack of action to help other sectors feeling the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In his summer statement, Rishi Sunak announced a temporary VAT cut, from 20 per cent to five per cent, on food, accommodation and attractions.

An Eat Out to Help Out scheme will give diners 50 per cent off their meals on Mondays to Wednesdays in August, with the difference paid by the government.

Stamp duty has been temporarily scrapped for homes under £500,000. The chancellor pledged a £1,000 job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff.

Kris Gumbrell, Dorset-based chief executive of the Brewhouse and Kitchen chain of pubs, said: “Sunak’s done a brilliant job. It’s going to cost a lot of money but it’s supporting the sector. It’s great news and it protects jobs.”

Andy Lennox, who recently opened his second Zim Braai restaurant and founded the Wonky Table campaign group, had been campaigning for a VAT cut and a “spread the week” campaign to make weeknights busier.

“I have to say it’s just amazing,” he said.

“It won’t save those who have already gone and it won’t save those who haven’t done their stuff, but it will save those who have tried incredibly hard to get open.

“The government has told people to visit on Monday to Wednesday. It’s just lovely to see.”

Caroline Roylance, owner of the George pub at Fordingbridge, said the statement was “the best news we’ve had in four months”.

“Since we closed our doors we’ve had no income, no government support through grants and had to furlough 20 staff. We’ve tried to offer take away meals but the uptake was not enough to make it a viable option,” she said.

“We will definitely be applying for the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme, and the VAT reduction will help us make it through the next few months, because trade is unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels for some time.

“Saying that, it’s been surprisingly busy today, which is encouraging, but it’s still not July busy. It’s a start though.”

But there was criticism from the opposition and unions about the lack of support for other sectors, including manufacturing, aerospace and the car industry.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, said: “The chancellor’s ‘meal deal’ summer statement has given plenty of food for thought.

“Although the ‘eat out to help out’ giveaway will grab the headlines, the most important focus of this announcement was about jobs.

“The new furlough retention bonus shows how concerned the government is about mass employment once the scheme ends but it may not be enough for those firms which have been severely hit.

“The leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors in Dorset have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic so the VAT cut will be especially welcome in this sector.

“Anything which puts more pounds in the pocket of the public, such as the green homes grant, is a good thing while the changes to stamp duty will also be a boost.

“Measures to boost youth employment, traineeships and apprenticeships are welcome yet may be seen as a short-term fix.

“As ever the devil will be in the detail with many cash-strapped businesses keen to know how and, importantly, when money would be paid if they sign up to schemes.”

Matt Butcher, commercial director of Bournemouth and Poole College, welcomed the news of cash bonuses for employers who take on apprentices.

He said: “The chancellor’s announcement is great news for businesses and students as it give businesses even more of an incentive to seek out their next generation of talent. Apprentices and the skills they bring will be a huge part of the recovery and the college is ready to help. We have lots of great candidates, work with excellent employers and have worked hard to make all of our apprenticeship programmes flexible for when companies are ready to recruit.”

James Robinson, managing partner at the Poole office of accountants PKF Francis Clark, said of the furlough announcement: “If employers do not envisage a furloughed employee’s role existing in the long term, the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus is unlikely to be a major factor in difficult decisions about potential redundancies.

“That said, the bonus could provide some welcome additional support for employers in industries where the furloughed employee’s role is likely to return in time, and an additional incentive to preserve those jobs and stand by their employees in the short term."