Where are we at with the Stay and Spend?
On Thursday the 3rd December Ireland is due to come out of a level 5 lockdown after 6 weeks. Hurrah! Part of the lockdown involved all “eat-in” food establishments closing or moving to take out service only, and all accommodation providers closing, or only being available to those who had essential travel requirements. At this stage it looks like the food and accommodation sectors might not be fully opening on the 3rd, we expect – and hope – that good portions of that sector will be able to open their doors.
One consequence of the lockdown was it effectively shut down the Stay & Spend scheme. The Stay & Spend scheme, which started on the 1st October allows you to claim a 20% tax credit on eligible overnight accommodation and ‘eat-in’ food establishments. So for a maximum eligible spend of €625 per tax payer in the tax year, you get €125 back. For more details on what’s eligible, check out our page on eligibility.
So after a 6 week hiatus in the scheme, will we see massive take-up on the scheme over the Christmas period? Likely not, given the low rate at which businesses are registering for the scheme.
Why are businesses not registering?
Are businesses in your area registering for the Stay and Spend scheme?
Revenue have a search engine for registered providers here. This works fine for us here in little Carlow! But if you were looking to see what establishments are registered in your locality in a bigger county like Galway for example, you would have to trawl through 21 pages of results. Ideally I’d like to see the tool have a map function. But even a search by text function and allowing more than 10 results per page would be quick wins.
But a bigger issue is how few establishments have registered with the scheme. Back to Carlow for examples of this.
With regards to the Accommodation sector, Hotels have a high take up rate, but very few B&B’s and Guesthouses have signed up. How few? Only 1 B&B/Guesthouse in Carlow town has registered.
On the food and drink side of things, overall there is also a disappointingly low take up – in particular amongst independent restaurants and cafés.
It’s clear that smaller businesses are not registering for the scheme. Whether small businesses are finding it too difficult to sign-up, unable to meet eligibility criteria, or just do not see it as important, it points to the scheme failing to achieve it’s objective of stimulating spend across all groups in the sector. Hopefully we will see this acknowledged and addressed by the Government and representative bodies.
Total saving of €24.13 on a €100 restaurant bill from new measures
As well as saving through the Stay and Spend Scheme, the VAT rate on the Accommodation and Food and Drink sectors have been reduced from 13.5% to 9%.
While in most cases the VAT reduction is not being passed on by these sectors, this is understandable given the additional costs they are having to incur to run businesses at this time. Where they are passed on, how much would you save cumulatively?
This December a sample €100 restaurant food bill will be inclusive of 9% VAT, giving you a €4.13 saving from the VAT reduction. Claiming this spend through the Save and Spend scheme gives you another €20 back, which is how we come to our total of €24.13.
While I’m excited about realising those savings in December, the sad reality is many of the places I would like to go to save that money in are not registered for the save and spend scheme. Fingers crossed this changes.