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Small firms call for Eat Out to Help Out extension

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Written by: Emma Lunn
26/08/2020
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the government to extend the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The scheme is now in its final full week and has proved a success when it comes to getting people to dine in at local eateries.

The latest figures from HMRC show that the 50% discounts have been applied to 64 million meals in the three weeks since the scheme launched.

The FBS is calling for the initiative to continue for another month to further help thousands of small food and drink businesses across the country as we enter what the FSB called “a period of economic make or break”.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chair, said: “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.

“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.”

“As we head into the winter and new year, the government should be conscious of the fact that this scheme is one that genuinely works in helping to get people out into small businesses. The option of reintroducing it should the economy begin to stall should be front of mind.”

Some pubs and restaurants have said they will keep offering the 50% discount beyond the end of the month – although they won’t be able to claim the money back from the government.

Toby Carvery and Harvester are extending the 50% discount for an extra two weeks, until 9 September. Mitchell & Butlers, which owns both companies, is also going to extend the half price deal at its Stonehouse Pizza branches.

Data from OpenTable shows that during Eat Out to Help Out’s third week the number of customers at UK restaurants was 61% higher than the average for the same days last year.

The data also shows that the number of customers at UK restaurants was up 17% compared to the same week in 2019.

“These remain difficult times for the small business community, with the stress and strains of this crisis continuing to be felt. That’s why we urge everyone to show support for their favourite small firms at every opportunity,” said Cherry, “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.”

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