A PUBS boss has described the situation with rising prices in the hospitality industry as 'hellish' as he echoed an MP's call for the chancellor to cut beer duty in next week's Budget.

Phil Simpson bemoaned a host of rising costs - including payroll taxes and energy - and said pubs were fighting the 'long war' against supermarket prices.

"We have got the fact that supermarkets are selling beer virtually at cost," said Mr Simpson, director at Lancaster Brewery, which incorporates The Mill in Ulverston and The Duke of Edinburgh in Barrow.

"We have still got beer being sold at ludicrously low levels by supermarkets, who use it to attract other customers who are going to buy other things."

Mr Simpson was speaking out after Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell announced he had been among a group of more than 100 Conservative MPs to put their names on a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to slash beer duty, a tax on beer with an alcohol content of more than 1.2 per cent, in the Budget, which will be revealed next week.

Mr Fell took to social media to say he was 'very happy' to have joined his colleagues in sending the message to Mr Sunak.

Mr Simpson said: "Supermarkets have been able to open right the way through the pandemic.

"Pubs and restaurants are really suffering at the moment and supermarkets are recording record profit.

"People are still not going out as as they were two years ago, business is not what it was two years ago.

"Beer duty is the last thing that we need."

Mr Simpson said Lancaster Brewery had escaped with only putting up its prices 'fractionally'.

He said he was delighted Mr Fell was 'prepared to stick his neck out' on the issue because 'many of his colleagues aren't'.

Mr Simpson's and Mr Fell's message was echoed by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, who said he 'wholeheartedly' supported calls for beer duty to be cut 'to help our local pubs stay afloat'.

"Pubs are at the heart of so many of our communities but, after the enormous disruption created by the pandemic, many are now at risk of calling time for good," he said.