Eat Out to Help Out scheme launches
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s half-price dining offer has proved wildly popular with the British public.
Latest stats show a whopping 64 million meals have been eaten using the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, which lets everyone to save a maximum of £10 when they eat out.
Participating restaurants have also reported that the number of people eating in has jumped 60% on the days the scheme runs compared to last summer, showing the temptation for cheap eats has outweighed people's fear of going out during the pandemic.
If you haven't already taken advantage and would like to, you'll need to get your skates on as Bank Holiday Monday (31 August) is your last chance to do so before the scheme shuts for good.
As with any Government giveaway, there's an awful lot of complexity and fine print.
Here's everything you need to know if you want to grab a discounted bite to eat.
Eat Out to Help Out: how it works
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme provides a 50% to diners in participating cafes, pubs and restaurants – including those in hotels and even trains with dining areas.
The key word is participating: owners and managers have to apply to the Government first so you shouldn't assume it's available everywhere. It might be a good idea to check before you order if you don't fancy paying full whack (see next section for more).
Although the scheme officially runs from 3 to 31 August, it's only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between those dates, so weekend saving is out of the question.
The 50% discount is capped at £10 per person and excludes service charges. Alcohol isn't covered so you can't grab a cheap pint, but all other food and drinks will be covered.
You can use this discount as many times as you want throughout August.
The Government has provided the following example of how the discount would work in practice – if there were four diners, each person would get a £6.25 discount.
Find out who's taking part
If an establishment sells food ‘for immediate consumption’ on the premises and has a designated dining area for customers, they can sign up for the scheme.
Unfortunately, the discount won’t be available if only a takeaway service is available.
You can check whether your preferred restaurant is taking part by using this tool.
Restaurants should also promote the fact they’re part of the scheme – perhaps by placing a sign in the window or somewhere visible – but some might simply have forgotten, so if cost is the deciding factor on where you eat, it doesn't hurt to pop in and ask.
According to media reports, major restaurants including Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s will be offering a 50% discount in August.
While restaurants are being encouraged to register all their branches for the scheme, it's ultimately up to each franchise to take up the initiative.
You'd think most have done so given how desperate they are customers after months of lockdown, but there's no guarantee.
Eat out to Help Out exclusions: booze, takeaways & more
As we mentioned before, alcoholic drinks and service charges are excluded, as well as food or drink for a private party or event such as a wedding.
Those offering a takeaway-only service can't offer a discount (this includes mobile vans and trailers), but you can buy a meal from a qualifying eatery and then take away a doggie bag.
Learn more about which establishments do and don't qualify on this Government page.
Can I use other offers with the discount?
Yes, you can, but any special offers or vouchers must be applied before the 50% discount.
So, for example, you can use a Tastecard to cut the cost of your food and drink bill before the 50% discount is applied.