THE chancellor who once worked shifts waiting tables in a Southampton curry house has been praised for boosting the struggling hospitality industry.

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

In his summer statement, Southampton-born 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 also pledged a £1,000 job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff.

The son of a Southampton GP and pharmacist, Mr Sunak once waited tables at Kuti’s Brasserie in the city.

Kris Gumbrell, chief executive of Brewhouse and Kitchen – which has a pub in Highfield Lane, Southampton – 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.”

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.”

Tony Knight, chair of Hampshire Chamber’s Professional Services Forum, said: “In these unprecedented circumstances and with limited room for manoeuvre, the chancellor should be applauded for some very sensible measures.

“The substantial and targeted VAT cut will provide much needed relief for the hospitality industry with restaurants given an extra shot in the arm through the August discount scheme.

“At the same time, the raising of the stamp duty threshold will encourage the resumption of homebuying, boost the property sector and create jobs in the wider supply chain.

“Many people worried about their futures will welcome the jobs retention bonus, giving employers an added incentive to bring staff back from furlough and keep them on.

“We also welcome the encouragement of apprenticeships and bonus payments for taking on young trainees.

“Taken together, the various measures he announced represent a strong stimulus to boost business confidence and get the economy moving again.

“It was, however, a giveaway. There were no tax increases announced that would help pay for it.

“Such spending cannot go on forever and the chancellor will have some hard thinking to do before the Budget in the autumn. At that point we can expect big decisions on tax and borrowing to help offset the deep recession we face.

“If we don’t beat Covid, the measures announced by the chancellor will have limited impact in getting the economy back on track.”