Why small business owners are frustrated with Dine & Discover program

Why small business owners are frustrated with Dine & Discover program
The NSW government's $500 million Dine & Discover program was supposed to give struggling local businesses a boost in the wake of the pandemic.
But 9News can reveal the $25 vouchers are being used to fatten up the profits of multinational fast-food giants like McDonald's, Oporto and KFC.
Small business owners whose profits plummeted during the pandemic claim the system is unfair.
How to get your Dine & Discover vouchers
The program was touted as a "major economic stimulus program" to encourage people to supposed local businesses impacted by coronavirus.
The four $25 vouchers can be used on entertainment such as going to the movies or dining out.
However, the decision to include fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's, which recorded large spikes in profits in 2020 has upset small operators.
City cafe owner Philip Barbaro saw business plunge 80 per cent last year, as office workers stayed at home.
Small business owners are angry about major fast food retailers being eligible for the Dine & Discover program. (NSW Government)
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has defended the decision to include larger multinationals, saying: "we don't want to dictate to families what they can spend their money on."
So far, 2.1 million people have downloaded their vouchers and nearly 900,000 have been redeemed.
The state government is happy with the uptake with an average customer spend of $42 - $17 more than the government chips in.
The area with the biggest uptake is the Central Coast, followed by Blacktown, the Northern Beaches and Parramatta.
Those aged 30 to 45 are most likely to have participated.