UK retailers Tesco and Sainsbury's have backed a Government scheme to provide a goodwill gesture to the thousands of families who lost out in the Farepak collapse last month.

Christmas hamper firm Farepak, which was used as a savings vehicle by many UK families in exchange for vouchers leading up to the festive period, went into administration and is unable to refund customers.

Tesco will donate GBP250,000 (US$477,413) to the nation's Department for Trade and Industry-backed Farepak Response Fund.

Tesco added that the pledge is setting a lead that it hopes other companies and organisations will follow.

"While the circumstances surrounding Farepak are not in any way of our making, we are very concerned about the impact on those affected. We believe the DTI scheme offers the best means of helping all Farepak customers to enjoy their Christmas," the company said.

Sainsbury's, meanwhile, is planning to give Farepak customers who were saving towards Sainsbury vouchers the equivalent to 25% of the value of their savings.

It said that the joint administrator has indicated to the retailer that, barring unforeseen problems with the Farepak agent information, it will be able to provide Sainsbury's with details of all Farepak agents who had customers saving for Sainsbury's vouchers and the total value of those vouchers.

If the administrator does indeed provide this information, Sainsbury's said it will send vouchers to the agents.

Sainsbury's expects to dispatch vouchers to the agents by the end of this month, but said that the only route for customers to receive these vouchers would be via the Farepak agent.

"We regret that it will not be possible for customers to claim vouchers direct from Sainsbury's or from any Sainsbury's store," the retailer added.