RESTAURANT and pub-owners across Barrow and Ulverston have welcomed the government decision to cut tax for six months.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday that the government is to cut VAT on hospitality as part of a £30bn plan to prevent mass unemployment as the economy is hit by coronavirus.

The government will also pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October as well as offering up to 50 per cent off to people dining out in August, from Monday to Wednesday each week.

Devris Ozmus, owner of Kapadokya in Barrow, described the announcement as a ‘lifeline’ but worries about the future of his restaurant.

He said: “Paying tax is definitely something we’re struggling with at the moment, so this will be a lifeline for us.

“30 per cent of our takings goes towards tax so cutting this would help us survive as a restaurant.

“It’s been a real struggle over the past few months but this announcement may help us stay afloat.

“Many of my friends who own restaurants don’t have enough cash to buy stock or reopen so this will be a huge boost for them.”

Kapadokya currently remains closed for dining in and will do for at least the next few weeks, says Mr Ozmus.

He said: “I’m worried about the future. I think the government made the decision to reopen restaurants too early.

“I don’t think it’s safe for staff or customers to reopen yet.

“Most of my customers are over 40 and in the risk category and I don’t want to put their lives in danger, as well as my staff - it wouldn’t be right.

“We hope to open in the next couple of weeks when we feel it is safe.”

Lancaster Brewery owner Phil Simpson, who owns the Duke of Edinburgh in Barrow and The Mill in Ulverston, welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement.

“It’s fantastic news for the hospitality industry that’s had a terrible few months and desperately wants to keep all its hardworking employees,” he said.

“Last weekend was a fairly quiet restart but our customers seem happy with all the new health and hygiene procedures, if we can tempt a few more people out then we’ll have a really safe and viable industry once again.

“Long way to go but the early baby steps and today’s announcements will give everyone in our industry a big boost.”

However, for pub managers like Ben Jones, the landlord of The Piel Castle in Ulverston, his business will not benefit from the VAT cut as alcohol sales are not included.

He said: “Sadly, the VAT cut for hospitality businesses won’t benefit the Piel Castle, as alcohol sales are not included.

“We hope for great weather this summer, as many of our customers will feel safer and more comfortable drinking outside.”

Mr Jones revealed The Piel Castle will be reopening to the public on Monday July 20.

“We decided to leave it an extra two weeks as we didn’t want to turn our regulars away through initial strict restrictions meaning we can’t serve as many people as usual.”