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Shropshire Star comment: We must continue to help out our eateries

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme was a marvellous example of ingenious. Chancellor Rishi Sunak demonstrated ample confidence and creativity in finding new ways to stimulate demand in the UK’s third largest sector; hospitality sector.

People eating on tables placed outside a restautant in Chinatown in Soho, London, as the government initiative Eat Out to Help Out comes to an end.

The scheme was an unparalleled success, with £30 million saved across the West Midlands as 5.2 million meals were enjoyed. It provided a huge boost to pubs and restaurants, which had been closed since March, helping a great many to get back on their feet. The Chancellor has done his part and must now focus on balancing the nation’s books.

It is left to us, the locals, to keep those businesses afloat.

While the scheme provided much-needed revenue for business owners, it did something even more important; provided confidence for customers. People were reassured that it was safe to eat out and they did so in droves.

Now that the Government subsidy has ended, it is up to us to provide patronage to those local establishments that we wish to remain open. They rely on our custom and with capacity down due to social distancing, they need support more than ever before.

Eating out not only preserves the jobs of people who work in our favourite venues, it also safeguards the intricate web of connections that keep making those businesses tick. The local growers who supply vegetables and fruit, the farmers who provide meat and game, the logistics companies that bring in fish; all take a small part of the money that goes through the till.

It’s not just those who need support. It’s also the maintenance men and women, the plumbers and electricians, the painters and decorators and far, far more besides. Without viable local restaurants, their businesses would contract.

By the same token, our local sense of community is supported by the hospitality industry. While once we met in parish halls or community centres, then in pubs, now many people meet in coffee shops and bistros, restaurants and pizzerias. It is essential for social cohesion that we are able to meet and exchange information and news. Restaurants, coffee shops and pubs provide a forum for that.

We have watched the Darwinian survival of the fittest in recent months and not all outlets have survived.

Those that remain standing need support through autumn, before they look forward to a busier Christmas trading period. Eat Out To Help Out was a magnificent idea that has done much good.

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