The Government has launched its registration process for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – set up to try and get people into the UK’s struggling restaurants, bars, cafes.
The new scheme was part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget last week, announcing measures to try and coax the UK economy out of the economic misery brought on by the lockdown.
Establishments using the scheme will be able to offer a 50 per cent reduction of up to £10 per person to all diners sitting down for food and drinks on any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in August.
It means a family of four could save £40 on a meal worth £80.
The discount does not apply to alcohol, even as part of a meal, but does cover soft drinks.
Sam Hagger runs the Beautiful Pubs Collective which has two pubs in Leicester and one in Leicestershire.
He has been hit by the double whammy of three months of lockdown followed by an extended lockdown in and around Leicester which meant pubs and restaurants within that area still cannot open.
He warned it might be too little too late for him.
He said: “I think that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme should have a positive impact on consumer confidence to go out by mitigating people’s concerns that they might not enjoy the Covid controlled dining experience, and thinking it might be a waste of their money.
“Disappointingly though, the government seems to have overlooked that Leicester is now a couple of weeks behind the rest of the country’s economic recovery and seems to have no plans to support business operators who will now not fully benefit from their recent round of support or indeed missed the support completely because of the ludicrous rateable value cap.
“I also feel for my peers in the city with drinks-led businesses who this support appears to have completely missed completely – support for a sector should not discriminate the style of business.
“I also believe that the furlough scheme withdrawal timings should be extended for businesses operating in the city, it’s going to take time to build confidence and we need to be able to look after our people.”
Restaurants and other establishments serving food to be eaten on the premises can now sign up to the initiative aimed at protecting hospitality jobs and encouraging people to safely start eating out again.
The Eat Out to Help Out registration page went live this morning on GOV.UK and can be accessed here.
Customers do not need a voucher as registered establishments will just take the discount from their bill.
Businesses will then reclaim the discounted amount through an online service, supported by HMRC.
Claims can be made on a weekly basis and will be paid into bank accounts within five working days.
Businesses will get a window sticker to show they are using the scheme and can download promotional items from GOV.UK.
Rishi Sunak said: “Restaurants and other eligible establishments are now able to support jobs by signing up to a place on the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
“HMRC’s quick and easy registration page will soon have you on your way to welcoming back your customers with discounted dining on every Monday to Wednesday throughout August, with a simple process to reclaim these discounts back from the Government each week.”
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 around 130,000 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 August 3.
“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.”
A searchable restaurant finder tool will be available to the public before the scheme launches on 3 August.
HMRC said it will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate.