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Eat Out to Help Out postcode checker launches alongside guidance for businesses

Published:  28 July, 2020

The government has released new guidance for businesses on the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, which will enable bars and restaurants to claim back customer-facing discounts from 7 August.

From the 3 to 31 August, businesses will be able to offer a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks with the tab being picked up by the government.

The ins and outs of the scheme have now been published alongside a postcode checker for consumers to find participating restaurants in their area.

By way of clarity, the new guidance spells out start and end dates for the reimbursement service, which will run from 7 August to 30 September, as well as the records that must be kept and how to handle VAT.

For example, there is no limit on the number of times customers can use the offer. There is however, a limit on how many times a business can enter a claim, with a total of five claims permitted before 30 September when the reimbursement service will end.

The announcement of the postcode checker has led to a flurry of online activity online this morning.

On the one side, businesses have been posting about their participation in the scheme, while others have been quick to point out the inconsistency of government messaging around ‘eating out to help out’ and obesity.

Only yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced details of a new anti-obesity campaign which could see the end of buy-one-get-one-free deals on ‘unhealthy’ food and the introduction of ‘hidden calorie’ labelling on alcohol.

Responses to mixed messaging online followed the blueprint of Mark Cockerton @CockertonMark who said: “The ‘eat out to help out’ scheme helps those who can afford to eat out get 2 for the price of 1 meals at Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Nando’s, Wetherspoons etc. Today, Johnson announces a ban on ‘buy 1 get one free’ unhealthy meal deals’ to tackle obesity. What am I missing?”

According to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, over 32,000 restaurants had signed up by 22 July.

The Eat Out To Help Out scheme was first announced earlier this month to help stimulate activity and confidence in the UK on-trade after trading dropped to zero during lockdown.

It will be live all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during the 3 to 31 August 2020 period.

Participating establishments must be able to offer some sort of dine-in service. Takeaway only food or drink services are not eligible under the scheme.

It is important to note that VAT needs to be paid on the full amount of the customer’s bill before the discount is applied – this can be reconciled at a later date.