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Gloucestershire Business News

Calls to leave Eat Out scheme on the menu

Fresh calls have been made to extend the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme after official figures showed it had attracted more than 64 million diners it its first three weeks.

The Treasury figures showed the scheme, which offers half price meals up to £10 off per person from Monday to Wednesdays in August, has seen 84,000 restaurants sign up and claim the discount back from the Government.

It is due to finish on Monday, but the Federation of Small Businesses have called on the Government to extend the initiative.

National chairman Mike Cherry said: "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.

"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.

"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."

He continued: "Additional support is still needed for certain groups in the leisure sector, especially pubs.

"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."

The call for an extension to the scheme has been echoed by the British Beer & Pub Association, although it called for greater support for pubs which do not serve meals.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: "It has provided a much-needed boost to sales in the early week for some of our sector as it tries to recover.

"Repeating the scheme, particularly as we approach quieter months for trade, would be a significant help."

She continued: "It still remains the case that 'wet led' pubs - those who predominantly just serve drinks and bar snacks - don't benefit from the scheme and so still need further support from the Government elsewhere.

"With the upcoming autumn budget and alcohol duty review, as well as the business rates review, this should be in the form of significant cuts to beer duty and business rates."

Restaurant booking website Open Table said customers at UK restaurants on the first three days last week was 61 per cent higher than last year.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Today's figures continue to show that Brits are backing hospitality - with more than 64 million meals discounted so far, that's equivalent to nearly every person in the country dining out to protect jobs.

"This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, how this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly two million people who work in hospitality."

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