Diners across the county have been enjoying half price deals at their favourite pubs and restaurants as part of the Eat Out to Help Out initiative throughout August, but the scheme ends on Monday.
So a petition has been launched calling on the government to reduce the VAT on café and restaurant food and increase the VAT on alcohol sold in shops. A separate petition is also demanding an extension to the scheme, at least until the end of September.
While many of Oxfordshire’s pubs, restaurants and cafes have flourished thanks to the scheme, they have relied heavily on their outdoor spaces to do so, and fear for the autumn and winter trade, when this will no longer be possible.
“It’s increasingly important as autumn and winter come that our guests realise our survival will be at stake particularly over the winter months” Peach Pubs
Claire Alexander from The Killingworth Castle and Ebrington Arms said: “I would really like to see a plan for the winter when we can’t use our outside tables, and a longer-term commitment to a cut in VAT for hospitality. It is really important that people get behind the petition and support the hospitality industry.”
The petition is calling for all food served in cafes, restaurants and pubs to be cheaper, and VAT increased on shop bought alcohol.
Dodo Pubs, which runs The Rusty Bicycle in East Oxford, The Rickety Press in Jericho and Up In Arms in Marston has decided to extend the promotion through to September.
Director Leo Johnson said: “We’ve been so lucky to have had so many customers take advantage of the scheme that we wanted to thank them and carry on the good times this September. Times are tough at the moment but seeing so many friendly faces in our pubs again makes it worth it.” http://www.dodopubs.com/locations/
Hamish Stoddart, Managing Director of The Peach Pub Company, which runs The Fishes in North Hinksey, The Fleece in Witney, The Thatch in Thame and The Bear and Ragged Staff in Cumnor, says that Eat Out to Help Out has been a great success for them, but fears for the winter and autumn months ahead.
“This was a great idea that’s really worked well for us and in particular our Oxfordshire pubs, The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, The Fishes in North Hinksey, Oxford as well as The Fleece in Witney. All three pubs have seen a real upturn in business, with The Bear & Ragged Staff up 46%, The Fishes up 37% and The Fleece up 41% over the last month versus the same time last year.”
“My own view is that Rishi Sunak has done some great things to date and should carry on the scheme through September and even look at extending it longer to help the hospitality sector, especially in cities and town centres to survive the winter.
“Like many, we can’t afford to do our own scheme. It’s increasingly important as autumn and winter come that our guests realise our survival will be at stake particularly over the winter months and that when you book a place, you should come or cancel with plenty of time to spare,” he adds.
“We have some new ways of working the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which is a no-brainer for anyone taking advantage of a ‘staycation’, and every day it’s been happening it has enabled us to keep all our team employed. We are now waiting with trepidation to see what winter brings.”
Martin Sherriff from The Blackhorse at Standlake, which has transformed its garden and thrived from the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme, added: “We have a few ideas of how we move forward I think that the scheme should be extended to keep helping restaurants and pubs out.”
Many pubs, restaurants and cafes have now signed a new petition urging the government to extend the scheme.
The UK-wide promotion gives people up to 50% off when eating or drinking soft drinks in a participating restaurant or other food establishment.The maximum discount is £10 per person.
It is valid all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August (Bank Holiday Monday).
Food and drink will appear on the menu at full price, but the restaurant will take the money off the bill before claiming it back from the government.
Numerous cafes, restaurants and pubs in Oxfordshire are taking part so go along and enjoy Eat Out To Help Out while you can.