MEASURES to support pubs and restaurants as lockdown restrictions are eased have been welcomed by city landlords.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Government's Budget plans to keep the reduced five per cent VAT rate for the hospitality industry and extend the furlough scheme until September alongside grants of up to £18,000 to help pubs and restaurants reopen after lockdown.

Mr Sunak also announced a freeze on alcohol duty during a speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 3).

The measures were welcomed by some of Worcester's landlords with the VAT and furlough extensions seen as "very good news."

Nigel Smith, owner of the Cardinal's Hat in Friar Street, said the Chancellor's announcements were "very positive" and had given pubs the "shot in the arm they needed" before potentially reopening partially in April.

"It's a very positive result for all of hospitality," he said. "The whole gambit of measures that the Chancellor has put forward will be very helpful. It's a real shot in the arm just when we really needed it."

Mr Smith said the continued cut to VAT for pubs and restaurants would be "very useful."

Craig Finn, owner of Belgian beer cafe TripelB in Copenhagen Street, said the Chancellor's announcements were "very positive" as he looked ahead to reopening in April.

"It's good news," he said. "I welcome the extension of the furlough scheme because obviously there's still an unknown for us and that is whether we are allowed to open or not in April.

"It's outdoor drinking only in April and we are very limited by that due to our location so assuming that if we can't open in April then the furlough extension is very good news.

"The business rates holiday and the VAT extensions are also very good news for the same reasons. We don't really want to be paying business rates when we are not open.

"All in all I feel positive about [the Budget] and really welcome it."

The reduced VAT rate for pubs, bars, restaurants and the rest of the hospitality industry will remain at five per cent until September before increasing to 12.5 per cent until next April.

Grants of up to £18,000 will be made available to help pubs and restaurants reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.

All alcohol duties are to be frozen for the second year running.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also said he would be extending furlough until the end of September.