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Eat out to help out UK scheme: what it is and why does it matter?

By Harriet Piercy

Aug 3, 2020

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered the whole of the UK discounts on meals eaten out, as part of his eat out to help out scheme, which aims to support the struggling hospitality industry and in turn hopefully slow the economy’s speed towards a corona-induced recession. The hospitality sector placed 1.4 million employees on furlough this year, which is the highest proportion of any sector.

How does the eat out to help out scheme work?

Sunak presented a plan for the whole of August, on each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that offers diners up to 50 per cent off of their meals and soft drinks. The discount is capped at £10 per person and will not include alcoholic beverages. As this only applies to a few days per week, the prices will look the same on a restaurant’s menu but when the bill comes, then the discount will be applied. What has been deducted will be claimed back from the government by the facility. Establishments that are eligible to take part must have a seating area of their own that customers can use, which means ghost kitchens will not be able to offer such low prices.

There is no limit as to how many times you can use the promotion but you do have to eat or drink what you pay for on the premises, so, no take-outs involved. Catering services aren’t included, neither are bed and breakfasts or food trucks.

Where can I go to get the eat out to help out discount?

Many independent eateries and cafes have signed up to the scheme, as well as big chains and some workplace canteens. You can find out which businesses are offering deals on the government website, where all businesses that are taking part will be listed. Simply search the postcode you want to dine in, also look out for posters on windows of cafes and restaurants as there are sure to be some of these around too!

There is no minimum spend to get the discount either, so if you bought a £1 cup of coffee at a business taking part in the scheme, you would be paying 50p instead. Lovely!

What if there’s a local lockdown, will the eat out to help out scheme still work?

In the case of a local lockdown being put in place, the scheme won’t be implemented simply because of the fact that the social facilities such as pubs and restaurants will have to be locked down too to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

There has been some criticism though, as several fast food chains are involved in the scheme. The discount scheme sits alongside the government’s healthy eating plan, which has banned the “buy one get one free” deals on unhealthy food, due to the growing evidence of links between obesity and an increased risk from COVID-19. The UK’s Care Minister, Helen Whately, told LBC Radio that these fast food chain restaurants will have to publish calorie breakdowns of their meals giving the chance to consumers to make an ‘informed choice’

With this being said, businesses of all kinds still need to be built back up. Sunak has made the incentive clear, we need to get pubs and cafes “bustling again.” He also added that the moment is unique, so “we need to be creative.” There has never been a situation like this before, so it is likely we have to try measures that haven’t been tried before as well. So, let’s try to get out, enjoy a cheap meal and see whether the scheme is working before tackling it.