Published: 00:01, 26 August 2020
Business chiefs are calling on the government to extend its popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme .
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says such a move would benefit small food and drink outlets across the county.
Eat Out to Help Out is due to end on Monday. Running throughout August, it allows customers to enjoy 50% off meals and non-alcoholic drinks, capped at a discount of £10 per person.
It applies to eat-in food and drink on Monday to Wednesdays.
But it has come at a cost to the public purse. It is estimated more than 35 million half-price meals were served across the UK in the first two weeks of the scheme - costing the Treasury some £180million .
Regional chair of the FSB, David Milham, said: "The scheme has been an overwhelming success in getting people back on their high streets, town centres, and into country pubs and cafés. 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.
“As we head into the winter and New Year, the government should be conscious of the fact 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.
"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.”