PUBS and restaurants are raising a toast to the decision to extend VAT relief and freeze alcohol duties.

York’s tourism and hospitality businesses are still reeling from the coronavirus crisis and restrictions, with the full reopening of the sector unlikely until June 21 at the earliest.

The Budget announced measures to support the industry- but York publican and campaigner Paul Crossman warned that too many people had still been left out.

The five per cent VAT rate has been extended until September 30, after which it will be 12.5 per cent until April 2022, and the furlough scheme will continue until the end of September.

Sean Bullick, of Make It York, said these measures would be a real boost for many.

He also said a new restart grant scheme, starting in April, would be crucial to many York companies within the hospitality and retail sectors.

“The additional support for the culture sector is also hugely positive for many organisations within the city," he said.

There is also a freeze of alcohol duties for the second year, along with an extended business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure until the end of June. This will then be discounted by two thirds for the remaining nine months of the year.

But Paul who chairs the national Campaign for Pubs group said: “While we welcome measures such as income support for the newly self-employed who were unfairly excluded from previous schemes, we note that directors of limited companies, which will include a great many small pub businesses, and the nation’s small breweries, have still been left out.

“Further grants are welcome, but the restart grants will simply be insufficient to enable most pubs to even cover ongoing fixed costs while closed, let alone enable them to restock and reopen.

"Even the furlough scheme, while great for our staff, will continue to carry a cost for struggling publicans, as we will continue to have to find NI and pension payments and to cover holiday entitlement in order to protect jobs.

“The offer of more loans will not appeal to businesses who are already extremely worried about escalating debt. This is especially the case for those still facing unreasonable rent demands, which is something the Chancellor failed to address at all, a worry which is compounded by the fact that we were not given the extra full year of business rates relief that we were hoping for.”

The government also doubled the apprenticeship incentive which UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said would help the hospitality sector rebuild.