How the Eat Out To Help Out scheme for pubs, restaurants and cafes will work

Restaurants in Britain are now able to apply to take part in the Government's new Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which will bring discounted meals to diners throughout August. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the plan last week as part of a ?30bn mini budget that also revealed VAT for leisure businesses would drop from 20 to 5 per cent until January 2021. Mr Sunak is hoping to provide a welcome boost to an economy hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and has acknowledged the hospitality industry has been one of the worst affected.

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In a move designed to stave off a stifling recession, well over 100,000 businesses, employing some 1.8 million people, will be able to sign up to the scheme, including pubs, restaurants, and cafes.

Restaurants have been given a much needed boost (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Mr Sunak, who often visits his local constituency pub for Sunday lunch with his family, said he wants to get pubs and cafes "bustling again".

"This moment is unique, we need to be creative," he added. "To get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs and protect the 1.8 million people who work in them, I can announce today that for the month of August we will give everyone in the country an 'eat out to help out' discount."

What does it mean for diners?

The Chancellor said anyone is eligible for the discount, which means 50 per cent off meals to the value of ?10 per head on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays during August this year. It means, for example, a ?40 lunch for two would come to just ?20, while a ?80 dinner for a family of four would be reduced to ?40. Only the discounted sum needs to be paid - the rest of the tab is picked up by the Treasury.

It gets trickier for meals in which diners will be paying more than ?10. If two people splash out on high-end tasting menus that cost ?60 each, the ?120 bill would come to ?100, which is less significant but still a welcome decrease.

What does it mean for restaurants?

In a bid to encourage customers to eat out, the Chancellor announced that, for the month of August, the government will give everyone in the country an 'Eat Out to Help Out' discount (Photo: PA)

Any restaurant, pub or cafe can sign up and registration to do so started on 13 July. Many have already done so, and a number are changing their menu pricing, or offering new deals, to better accommodate for the scheme.

Eat Out to Help Out starts on Monday 3 August and runs until the end of the month, which means everyone in Britain is entitled to a total 13 days of cheaper dining. Hospitality companies that subscribe will be able to claim the discount back and will be reimbursed by the Government within five working days, Mr Sunak promised.

What does it mean for the Treasury?

The Chancellor said the move will cost the country up to ?500m. At ?10 each, the sum works out at around 50 million meals, though that is a pretty loose estimate, according to insiders.

The industry is very much still easing its way back in after being closed since 20 March. Not all establishments have reopened yet - quite a few may not ever, with scores of redundancies already - but those who have and will before August will be able to use Eat Out to Help Out to encourage diners back to tables. It will, like all coronavirus measures, be kept "under review", so may yet extend if successful.

Mr Sunak and his team picked August for obvious reasons - a lot of people are still tentative about the idea of visiting pubs and restaurants, while business owners are still unsure as to how to operate in a very different landscape.

What do restaurateurs think?

Generally, those in hospitality have been receptive. Restaurants from rural Yorkshire to Liverpool, London to the Kent coast have all announced they will be taking part. Bigger chains such as PizzaExpress have also praised the plan. Many are also adapting their menus and even altering their current reopening strategy so diners can benefit more readily.

The Parkers Arms in Lancashire will be doing a three-course set menu for ?35, The Cheese Truck in London - made famous last year by launching the world's first cheese conveyor belt - will be offering an ?18 set menu, and The Art School in Liverpool will begin opening on Wednesdays, where previously they were only serving Thursdays to Sundays. Others taking part are plenty. A few include The Royal Harbour in Margate, The Rat Inn, Hexham, and Franklins in Dulwich, South London.

Confidence to dine out

Jim Harra, chief executive and First Permanent Secretary of HMRC, said: "The hospitality industry is among the sectors worst affected by COVID-19.

The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme will deliver support to more than 100,000 businesses, including restaurants, cafes and bars serving food and drink, helping to protect 1.8 million jobs across the UK. "Registering is easy, and we urge businesses to sign up early so they are ready to use the scheme when it starts on 3 August. "Businesses have made great efforts to re-open their sit-down services safely in line with social distancing guidance, so people can feel confident to dine out again.

Businesses can find information about the scheme and how to register online at GOV.UK."

You may also like...