By Grahame Anderson
The Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has proven to be a big success in Bradford with large numbers of people taking up the offer.
In fact, many establishments have decided to extend the project through September given the boost in business in the light of the pandemic.
As the brainchild of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a large number of restaurants and eateries in the city saw them slash prices in August. As a result, business has been booming despite the ongoing dangers of coronavirus.
The Government-subsidised initiative offered half-price meals and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August to encourage people to return to eating out in the hope of helping out the food, drink and catering industry. Both adult and children’s meals were included, but alcohol and takeaways were not.
Discounts were applied automatically with the order, meaning vouchers weren’t necessary. Businesses have been able to claim back the costs from the Government, refunded within five working days.
For example, a meal out for one costing £20 would be reduced to £10. A £25 meal however, would be cut to £15 because of the £10 cap per person.
“Business has been booming though it might have been better to run the scheme for seven days as opposed to just three. It would have taken a little pressure off the staff.
“Considering the pandemic is ongoing we were amazed at the high take up to be honest. It ‘d be great if they opened up the scheme again in October of November. All in all we’ve been very pleased as people love their food in Bradford.”
A spokesperson for the Babtooma Syrian restaurant nearby largely agreed with those sentiments saying: “The first day was a bit chaotic and the staff went home drained, but once we prepared going forward it was great to see the boost in business.
“We’ve had people from right across the age groups coming in and it seems to have lifted people’s spirits as well. As far as we are concerned it’s been a big a success and we’d love to to see the Government extend the scheme.”
Bradford of course is famed for its eating houses with Leeds Road, in Bradford East a very popular place for curry houses. Great Horton Road, in Bradford West, is also extremely popular with Shimlas Indian restaurant high on the list. And while they thanked the Government for the gesture they have mixed feelings on whether it’s been a huge success. They told me: “In truth, we’ve been incredibly busy during the week, but then customers have dropped off at weekends. So actually, it’s just balanced itself out.
“If this had been one day a week that would have been fine, but the pressure on our staff has been enormous at times. If this were to be extended we’d probably only agree if the days were cut down. There was nothing wrong with the idea, but we didn’t get much extra information from the Government.
- In Bradford East the total number of registered restaurants was 74 with 129,000 meals claimed for.
- In Bradford South 37 establishments signed up to the scheme with 250,000 meals being claimed.
- In Bradford West 164 eateries took part with a whopping 1,418,000 meals claimed.
Asian Sunday has learned there seems to be no direct correlation between the different areas of the city in terms of the figures or help. It seems to be all down to the numbers of eateries who registered with the scheme. We’ve contacted all three MPs for comment.
UK wide, On 31 August – the final day of the scheme – bookings were up 216 per cent compared to the same day in 2019. More than 100 million meals have been claimed for in the drive to protect 1.8 million jobs in hospitality.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs- and to do this we needed be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before.
“Figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.
“The scheme is just one part of our Plan for Jobs and we will continue to protect, support and create jobs to ensure we come back stronger as a nation.”
Other measures announced to protect, support and create jobs include cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15 per cent, a £2billion Kickstart Scheme, which opened for applications this week, and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.