Eat Out to Help Out

Many venues are already taking advantage of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, where restaurants cut their prices throughout the month of August in a bid to kick-start the hospitality industry. This is for those that have yet to take advantage of the scheme and sheds some light on potential drawbacks.

In this article, we take information from the GOV.UK website and explore everything you need to know about the scheme, from how to register your business, what records you need to keep to be eligible and whether there are any disadvantages to the scheme.

What is the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

It is a government initiative which gives diners a discount of up to 50% when eating in participating restaurants, cafés and pubs. The promotion is valid Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3rd – 31st August, as long as your area does not go into another local lockdown. There is a maximum discount of £10 per person and it is only valid if customers eat in.

What are the positives of using the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme?

As the scheme is only valid at the beginning of the week (typically the quieter days of the week in the hospitality industry), the scheme should attract custom on these days, helping to boost business once again and repair any lost revenue.

Not only this, but it could incentivise customers to eat in your restaurant by giving them a discount that you can claim back from the government. This should support your business by instilling loyalty amongst your customers and encouraging them to dine with you again in the future.

Is my business eligible?

Your establishment is eligible if you serve food for immediate consumption on premises. This means that if you’re a restaurant, café or a pub that serves food, you qualify for the scheme!

Can the discount be applied to all food and drink?

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are entitled to the discount with no minimum spend requirement.

The discount cannot be applied to alcoholic drinks or tobacco products and must be bought and consumed on site.

How can I register for the scheme?

In order to register for the scheme, you must have:

  • Government Gateway ID and password for your business
  • the name and address of each establishment to be registered, unless you are registering more than 25 (in which case, you do not need to provide details of each one)
  • the UK bank account number and sort code for the business
  • the address on your bank account for the business
  • the date your business started trading

Do I need to keep any records?

For each day you’re using the scheme, you must keep records of the:

  • total number of people who have used the scheme in your establishment
  • total value of transactions under the scheme
  • total amount of discounts you’ve given

If you are using the scheme for more than one establishment, you must keep these records for each.

As one of the sectors worst affected by the coronavirus, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme should be a fantastic initiative that provides support to around 130,000 businesses which in turn, protects around a million jobs in the hospitality industry.

Are there any drawbacks of the scheme?

While on the surface, the scheme looks to promote food establishments and encourage customers to eat out, some restaurant owners are sceptical of the scheme.

The initiative will only work if restaurants can afford to fund the 50% discount while they are waiting to be reimbursed from the government, and in the economic position that the UK is in right now, this may be difficult for smaller restaurants and cafes.

Along with stricter hygiene requirements, social distancing measures and some businesses operating on skeleton staff, the additional paperwork to participate in the scheme may be too much for some establishments to handle.

It’s also worth considering how effective the scheme may actually be. Is a £10 voucher really going to encourage that many people to eat out, despite there still being very real risks of contracting the virus?

Although you should consider these points before joining the scheme, you should also look at the effects that not participating could have on customer traffic to your establishment throughout the month of August.