Eat out scheme sees huge take-up

The vast majority of hospitality businesses are taking advantage of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme in a bid to stave off the risk of insolvency.

A survey from UKHospitality found that 84% of businesses plan to take part in the scheme which launched on Monday and offers customers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum of £10 per diner, Monday to Wednesday throughout August.

The launch of the scheme coincides with another UKHospitality survey which reveals more than three-quarters of hospitality businesses in the UK are at risk of insolvency within 12 months.

The survey, in partnership with CGA, showed that one in five businesses are at significant risk of insolvency, or expect insolvency, within a year. Over half of businesses believe there is a slight risk, while less than a quarter of hospitality businesses are facing no risk.

UKHospitality is warning that unless further decisive support is provided by the government, many businesses will face ruin, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.

The trade body said the Eat Out To Help Out scheme went some way to delivering the support vulnerable hospitality businesses need. “It looks like our sector has been quick to adopt the scheme and we have seen examples of innovative menu additions aimed at tempting customers,” said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. “We hope that the take-up will be just as widespread amongst consumers, as businesses have invested heavily to make their venues Covid-secure.”

Nicholls tweeted on Wednesday that restaurants and pubs were saying the scheme had “really helped drive footfall”. Some pubs reported recording three times normal sales for the period Monday through Wednesday.

The scheme has faced criticism by some health campaigners for sending a confusing and contradictory message to the public following government plans to ban retail promotions of unhealthy foods. There are no restrictions on the types of outlet or food that qualifies for the 50% discount with the likes of McDonald’s and KFC among the chains to sign up.

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