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S&N to offer cash-back in 500 of its pubs

THE AGE-OLD problem of having to leave the pub because you have run out of cash to buy any more drinks could become a thing of the past as a result of a new plan announced yesterday.

The pubs group, Scottish & Newcastle, is to offer a "cash back" facility in more than 500 of its outlets, claiming that it will be the first retail group outside of Marks & Spencer and the major supermarket chains to do so.

The service will be available in all S&N's branded outlets, which include Chef & Brewer, John Barras & Co and the Rat & Parrot chains.

Cash-strapped punters in need of further refreshment only need to wave the magic plastic to receive more beer money - up to a maximum amount of pounds 50.

"Pub-goers of the 1990s are more demanding than ever," the company says in backing its decision. "They have seen improvements in service in the other retail sectors and they expect the same standard in pubs."

However, the plan was immediately criticised by the campaigning group Alcohol Concern, which said it would lead to people over-spending on drink.

"It is always a worry if people can get access to cash in situations where they might have drunk too much," a spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern said.

"A lot will depend on the training of the bar staff."