Small firms support

Sunak urged to extend Eat Out to Help Out scheme


Rishi Sunak promoting the scheme in Scotland (pic: Treasury)

Small firms are urging the Government to extend the Eat Out To Help Out initiative which has provided a revenue boost to cafes and restaurants.

The Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said it had been a lifeline to many small firms.

The scheme, which is subsidised by the government, gives diners a 50% discount at participating restaurants and pubs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, to a maximum of £10 per head.

More than 85,000 outlets have taken part and 35 million discounted meals were claimed across the UK in the first two weeks of the scheme.

It also saw the number of people eating in restaurants from Monday to Wednesday increase by an average of 27% year-on-year.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been an overwhelming success in getting people back on their high streets and in their town centres,” said Mr Cherry.

“We now need to see it extended to continue the critical support that it is providing for small firms as we enter a period of economic make or break.  

“Over the past few weeks, the scheme has been hugely welcomed by small businesses and their customers alike. A nationwide one-month extension would go some way to helping many firms which are still only just about managing in this time of crisis.”

Mike Cherry

Mike Cherry: this scheme ‘genuinely works’

“More than 35 million meals have been cooked and dished out across almost 50,000 restaurants and cafés who have been able to reap the rewards of this great initiative but as we enter September with schools reopening and more people going back to their places of work there are still strong merits to continuing this for one more month.”

Mr Cherry said additional support is still needed for certain groups in the leisure sector, especially pubs.

“We need to see these community hubs fully brought into the Eat Out to Help Out fold, particularly as they have been excluded from the recent VAT cut for food.   

“Beyond September, the scheme should be reactivated in areas that have gone through local restrictions or lockdowns. It’s vital that we continue to offer as much support as possible in areas where restrictions have been reintroduced – this would be a great way of doing just that.”

Mr Cherry said the Government should note that this scheme is one that “genuinely works” in helping to get people out into small businesses.

“We must do all we can to safeguard the futures of the small firms that make up 99% of our small business community. They will be pivotal to our recovery from this recession.”

FSB Scotland has called for the scheme to be extended in Aberdeen which has missed out because of the lockdown imposed on the city.

In a poll, it found that four fifths of businesses (84%) in Aberdeen would support the scheme for the city.

The FSB survey comes on the day that restrictions on hospitality firms are lifted in the city and the UK-wide discount eating scheme draws to a close.

Aberdonians should be allowed to have a fair crack of the whip

– David Groundwater, FSB Scotland

David Groundwater, FSB’s development manager for Aberdeen, said: “This snap poll clearly shows a majority of firms in Aberdeen are in favour of new help for the city’s eateries. And no wonder when the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been a huge success across the UK, but Aberdeen locals and firms simply haven’t had an opportunity to benefit.

“Aberdonians should be allowed to have a fair crack of the whip. An extension to the Eat Out to Help Out for our city doesn’t need to come this week, or next, but it should be rolled out before the end of the year.”

The small business campaign group has written to the Scottish Secretary Alister Jack about the issue, while a petition supporting such a move has gathered more than 3,600 signatures.

Feedback from FSB members suggest that many operators believe they have lost between £2,000 and £50,000 by not being able to benefit from the initiative.

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