A LIFELINE for pubs, restaurants and cafes has been cut.

The Government’s hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme has ended, and people in the hard-hit hospitality trade are preparing for a dip.

One publican in Burford, south Shropshire, and just outside Tenbury, wants to see the scheme or something like it reintroduced in October.

It is estimated that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme resulted in more than 100 million cut-price meals being sold during August. Some restaurants have extended it into September.

Chris Whitehead, who runs the Rose and Crown in Burford with his wife Sarah, says the scheme has definitely helped, but that he and other publicans are concerned what will happen as it gets colder and people have to return to paying full price.

He says the Government’s job retention scheme has also been a great help, and in his case has avoided the need, at least so far, to make any of his 12 full and part-time staff redundant.

“There is no doubt that this would not have been possible without the furlough scheme,” said Mr Whitehead.

He said that the first day of reopening at the beginning of July was very busy, but since then business has been steady, although down on the same period last year.

“It is hard to make comparisons for July because this was the first year that we did not have a beer festival and that would account for why trade was down,” Mr Whitehead said.

“In August it was quite good and Eat Out to Help Out clearly helped. We had some people coming in more often to have a meal.

“Steak was very popular because it took the price down below £10, which people really liked.

“It has also been good because people have been able to eat outside, but as it gets colder this will become more problematic.”

A heated covered area outside has also helped at the Rose and Crown, but this is not going to be practical in the winter.

He said that because of the need to social distance the capacity of the restaurant he runs had been cut by about 25 per cent from nearly 50 to just over 30.

This has resulted in lost income, especially at weekends when it was not unusual in the past to have the place full.

Mr Whitehead said that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme should not be a one-off and that publicans, as well as restaurant and café owners that he has spoken to, would like to see something similar in the autumn. “Leave September, but something in October would be very helpful.” .

Mr Whitehead said the sector is crippled with uncertainty that is making planning ahead very difficult. The hospitality sector is crossing its fingers about what the situation will be at Christmas which is always a vital time of the year for pubs and restaurants.