The UK Government recently announced an Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, aiming to stimulate demand and get diners back using restaurants and cafes.

Hamish Sheppard is here to explain the details, and, if your business is particpating, there are a few things to watch out for… Be sure to check out his top tips below, too.

How does the Eat Out to Help Out scheme work?

Through the scheme the government will pay a 50% discount up to a maximum of £10 per person towards the cost of a sit-down meal taken between Monday – Wednesday, during the month of August.

How can I register my business?

Businesses wishing to take part have to register for the scheme on the GOV.UK website, here. Registration remains open until the end of August.

Agents can’t register on your behalf, however, we are of course happy to help in any way we can.

The GOV.UK website has downloadable promotional material available for you to use – find it here.

What do I need to know about Eat Out to Help Out for my business?

The main points that you need to know about Eat Out to Help Out are:

  1. Businesses that are eligible include anyone who has the facility to offer dining on the premises.
    • Businesses with only informal seating outside in an area that does not belong to them, and is not shared with other establishments, will not be eligible for the scheme.
    • Where the only seating and dining for example is on the pavement outside your business this will not count.
  2. Eligible expenditure includes any food or non-alcoholic drinks purchased for immediate consumption on premises.
    • Top Tip: If a client is dining in and then takes away the remainder of the meal, the discount still applies.
  3. Ineligible expenditure includes alcohol and tobacco as well as take away food, and food served as part of a wider event, i.e. a wedding.
  4. It is only available for food served Monday to Wednesday.
  5. If you run a hotel, it doesn’t include any food or drink purchased as part of a wider service.
    • Top Tip: Make sure you are not bundling food with accommodation.
  6. Service charges are not included within the scheme.
  7.  You must offer the 50% discount.
  8. The £10 per person cap is based on the total bill, you don’t need to split it out per diner.
    • For example, if the overall bill for four people comes to £45, then £40 will be reimbursed, irrespective of individual costs.
  9. Hotels who bundle food and accommodation, for example, as bed and breakfast, will be outside the scheme.
    • Top tip: If you were to offer these separately, where food is optional, then it would apply.

There are some areas that we don’t know about yet, and some potential opportunities

As noted above, if a client is dining in and then takes away the remainder of the meal then the discount still applies. Does that maybe give you an opportunity to increase covers?

The scheme applies to both food and non-alcoholic beverages – does this mean in effect that soft drinks will always be half price in a pub for the month of August? Will this encourage clients to buy a spirit, and a soft drink separate in order to benefit from the 50% allowance on the soft drink? No doubt clarification will come out in due course.

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