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Extension demanded

Call to extend eat out scheme to help Aberdeen

Rishi Sunak’s scheme has proved popular (pic: HM Treasury)

Small firms are urging Scottish Secretary Alister Jack to “help out” lockdown-stricken hospitality businesses in Aberdeen.

The city has missed out on the government-backed Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme because of the lockdown.

It is due to end on 31 August and the Federation of Small Businesses wants Mr Jack to put pressure on the Treasury to re-introduce it in Aberdeen once local restrictions are lifted.

Representatives from all of Scotland’s main political parties have called for the scheme to be extended. A petition has gathered more than 1,100 signatures.

David Groundwater, FSB’s development manager for the North East of Scotland, said: “To help Aberdeen eateries get back on the feet, we want the UK Government to reintroduce the Eat Out to Help Out scheme when it is safe to do so.

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“This move wouldn’t increase the overall costs of the initiative, as Aberdeen isn’t benefitting from it at present.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme, introduced on 3 August to help bars and restaurants, has proved popular across the UK.

The government pays for 50% of a meal eaten at a cafe, restaurant or pub on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The discount, which is due to run through August, is capped at £10.

Diners used the scheme more than 10.5 million times in the first week, according to a survey from data consultancy CGA.

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On the first day of the initiative, Monday 3 August, food sales doubled on the previous Monday (27 July), with similar surges of 95% and 106% on Tuesday and Wednesday (4 and 5 August).

In parliament yesterday Tory MSP Graham Simpson helped out Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing who was unable to provide data on the number of Scottish restaurants using the scheme.

Mr Simpson asked what assessment the government had made of the impact of the scheme on the rural and tourism economies in Scotland.

Mr Ewing said it was a UK government scheme run by HMRC

“We do not currently have information on the number of businesses signed up to the scheme, nor the number of times it has been used in Scotland,” he said.

Mr Simpson said this was a “disappointing answer”, adding: “I can tell him that there were 3,766 Scottish restaurants signed up when it went live on 3 August.”



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