UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls labelled the scheme a “lifesafer” for the industry as she appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning (Monday 24 August) with Duck and Waffle executive chef Elliott Grover at the central London venue.
She said: “Boosting confidence, boosting footfall has been the most significant thing this scheme has done.
“Over the course of the three to four weeks so far, we’ve seen two in five of those who have come back out have been first-time users and 70% have said it was the scheme, which has brought them out, they needed it to build their confidence and now they feel they can return, not just to restaurants, pubs and bars but also the high street and they are more comfortable about returning on public transport too, which is critical for getting the economy moving.”
“In July, when we got our reopening date, a third did reopen so this scheme has been really significant in getting us from about half of our premises open to two thirds but there is still that third – lots of them in city centres and town centres where the footfall is lower, confidence is lower – that are still yet to open and that still means there are 1m of our teams still in furlough.”
Nicholls said an extension to the scheme would be “incredibly helpful for the sector” as the weather turns cold and outside areas cannot be used.
She added: “We have got city centres that are really struggling and the businesses in there are still closed by and large or operating at significant loss.
“Just to give that extra boost, to encourage customers back to work and see us through before we hit winter when we are having to close outdoor areas and we’ve got a bigger struggle to get people into the premises.”
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin outlined how helpful the scheme has been so far and urged for more support for wet-led pubs.
She said: “The Government should definitely repeat the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. It has provided a much-needed boost to sales in the early week for some of our sector as it tries to recover.
“That boost to the pub and wider hospitality sector – amongst the largest employers in the UK – is much needed and will help secure jobs and build consumer confidence.
“Repeating the scheme, particularly as we approach quieter months for trade, would be a significant help."
Further support needed
McClarkin added: “However, 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.”
On BBC Breakfast, Nicholls also highlighted how the trade needs further help from the Government for venues to survive.
She said: “You do need a package of measures. We have got the VAT cut from the Chancellor, furlough continuing until October and that’s really critical given we are the third largest employer that we have something sustainable for the employment of people in the industry.
“Crucially half of our teams are under 24 so for young people it’s really critical. The final bit of the puzzle is rents and property costs.
“In city centres locations, if you don’t have the footfall coming through, if you don’t have money coming through the doors, you can’t afford to stay open because rents and business rates are such a significant cost so going forward, that’s the area we need the Chancellor to look at.”