Eat Out to Help Out: Restaurants serve up 35 million half-price meals in two weeks under government scheme

Millions of people take advantage of 50 per cent discount to dine out in August

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 18 August 2020 20:22
Eat Out to Help Out scheme explained

Restaurants and pubs have served up more than 35 million half-price meals under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the Treasury reported on Tuesday.

The 85,000 outlets that are cooperating with the programme have sent in millions of requests to be reimbursed by the government so far, at a cost of £180m.

Restaurants take 50 per cent off the bill for meals ordered on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, up to a discount of £10 per person, and then claim the money back from the government.

The scheme runs until the end of August.

Stephen Wall, the co-founder of restaurant chain Pho, said the initiative had been “amazing” for his business.

“It’s so nice to see our restaurants full of happy staff and customers again,” he said.

“It has certainly benefited our early-week figures and seems to have encouraged the British public to dine out safely, as our restaurants are filling up and staying busy throughout the weekend, too.”

However, restaurants and pubs face a difficult few months ahead, with many expected to go out of business as government support comes to an end.

About 80 per cent of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, and 1.4 million workers in the sector were furloughed.

Many of those employees have since returned to work, but companies have missed out on many of what would normally be their busiest weeks of trading during the summer.

That leaves them in a potentially precarious financial position in the leaner winter months.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said: “Today’s figures show that Britain is eating out to help out, with at least 35 million meals served up in the first two weeks alone, that is equivalent to over half of the UK taking part and supporting local jobs in the hospitality sector.

“To build back better we must protect as many jobs as possible, that is why I am urging all registered businesses to make the most of this by claiming back today – it’s free, simple and pays out within five working days.”

The Treasury urged people to enjoy the scheme “as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle”.

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