Eat Out to Help Out: What is Rishi Sunak’s eat out voucher scheme and when does it end?

The popular scheme ends sooner than we'd all like.
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  • One of the plans revealed by Rishi Sunak on July 8 as part of the ‘mini budget 2020’ to help kick start the hospitality industry was the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme, which offers diners a discount on their food bill.

    At the same time, the chancellor also announced plans for a temporary VAT cut from 20 per cent to five per cent, a stamp duty holiday and a new Furlough bonus scheme. He also hinted at the reopening of gyms, which then happened from July 25.

    Introducing the new Eat Out to Help Out  voucher system, which comes into play in August, Rishi Sunak said at the time, “The final measure I am announcing today has never been tried in the UK before. This moment is unique, we need to be creative.

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    “To get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs and protect the 1.8 million people who work in them, I can announce that for the month of August we will give everyone in the country a ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount’.”

    This plan came after think-tank Resolution Foundation urged the government to give everyone £500 to spend on industries hit worst economically by the virus, including restaurants.

    But now, the scheme is coming to an end and diners will have to pay full price once again. So what does the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme entail? And how can we benefit from it?

    How does Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme work?

    Participating restaurants offer diners 50 per cent off their food and (non-alcoholic) drinks bill on the new scheme, with a maximum limit of £10 per head. The companies have registered their interest in the scheme through a simple website, which opened in early July.

    After the customers have visited, restaurants then claim the money back from the government and receive their refund within five working days.

    The Treasury’s Plans for Jobs document confirms that the discount can be used “unlimited times” on Mondays through to Wednesdays, on any eat-in meal.

    As Martin Lewis pointed out when the scheme was first announced, some restaurants that typically have other deals going on may not opt into the scheme as it’s not a necessary requirement for all restaurants.

    However, since the scheme first went live, over 32,000 restaurants and other eateries signed up to the scheme to welcome back diners.

    When does the voucher scheme come into place?

    Rishi Sunak made the announcement of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme earlier on July 8 and made clear that the discount will only be valid during the month of August 2020.

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    This is part of the government’s plan to support and create jobs in the hospitality industry, one of the worst hit by coronavirus, as they hope the discount will “encourage people to return to eating out” in the long term.

    When does ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ end?

    two women drinking at a cafe - part of the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme

    Credit: Getty

    Up to £10 per head off your food and drinks (non-alcoholic) bill sounds like a good deal for those looking to get back to their favourite restaurants, but unfortunately, the voucher scheme has an end date.

    The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme is only valid for the month of August 2020, which means that the offer is valid until August 31 as this is the last Monday of the month.

    However, some big name chains and other restaurants are continuing to offer Eat Out to Help Out discounts for the month of September following the success that the scheme gave to businesses.

    What restaurants are included in the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ food voucher scheme?

    Over the last month, many businesses have been keen to announce that their restaurants have signed up to the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. These include big fast-food names like Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s and Leon, alongside other traditional eat-in restaurants like Pizza Express, Prezzo and Nandos.

    As tens of thousands have signed up to the scheme, the easiest way to check which restaurants near you are part of the scheme, search your postcode through the government’s website.

    As the guidance says that “any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment” can be part of the scheme, it is also thought that many independent businesses and chains will also be offering 50 per cent off food and non-alcohol drinks bills in August.

    However, while the move to offer the scheme has been applauded by some as “bold”, others such as the economic spokeswoman for the SNP, Alison Thewliss, have pointed out that some families have struggled during the lockdown and won’t be taking up the opportunity.