Wales' small businesses call for extension of 'critical' Eat Out to Help Out scheme

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is set to end next week. Credit: PA Images

Small food and drink business across Wales are calling on the UK Government to extend the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The initiative, which gives customers half price off their meals up to the value of £10 per head, ends on Monday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the scheme in a bid to help the hard-hit hospitality industry cope with the coronavirus crisis.

It has ran throughout August, with discounted meals and drinks only available from Monday to Wednesday in participating restaurants, cafes and bar.

But the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales said many within the industry were not able to reopen straight away, missing out on some of the Eat Out to Help Out days.

Rishi Sunak announced the scheme in a bid to help the hard-hit hospitality industry. Credit: PA Images

FSB Wales Policy Chair, Ben Francis, said the support is "critical" for providing small firms support as we enter a period of "economic make or break".

"The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been a huge success in getting people back into our Welsh high streets and town centres," he said.

"Wales’ hospitality firms are only just reopening, having been given the green light to do so in early August.

"Many were not able to open immediately, meaning they couldn’t take advantage of the scheme for the full month, and therefore extending the scheme during September would help those businesses really benefit from Eat Out to Help Out."

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

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair

He also called for the scheme to run beyond September in areas that have gone through local lockdowns.

“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."

A Treasury spokesperson told ITV News the reason the scheme is popular is because it is a "time-limited scheme – this reminds and encourages people to safely return to going out."

“With over 64 million meals served up under this scheme in the first three weeks, it is clear Britain is backing the hospitality sector by eating out to help out.”

The statement added: “The scheme complements a wider package of hospitality support that goes beyond August, including cutting VAT to 5%, paying the wages of furloughed staff, business rates relief and billions in tax deferrals and loans – all helping to protect nearly 2 million jobs in the hospitality industry.”

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