Winter version of Eat Out to Help Out could be relaunched after scheme's success this summer
THE winter version of Eat Out to Help Out could be relaunched after the scheme's success this summer.
The initiative, launched to boost the economy and rescue the flailing hospitality sector, is being kept "under review" for round two.
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But there are fears that the approaching winter season will further decimate restaurants, bars and pubs after they were already left devastated blow the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Some restaurants have even extended their own versions of the scheme into this month in order to entice customers as industry heads also call on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the initiative.
And today, Tory MP for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double addressed the Commons, saying: "August has been incredibly busy in Cornwall but we do face a big challenge as we head into winter for the hospitality sector.
"So could I ask (Sunak) if he would consider a similar sort of scheme to be run at some point during the winter to help as many businesses as possible survive the winter and be here for next summer?"
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman replied: "I would say that there is this wider package… of course the Treasury keeps all these measures under review… but it is a pretty formidable combination of VAT reduction, business rates relief and of course billions in tax deferrals and loans."
The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme saw diners in participating restaurants enjoy 50 per cent off their meal up to £10 on Mondays to Wednesday over August.
In April, around 80 per cent of hospitality firms stopped trading, with 1.4million workers furloughed, according to government data – the highest of any sector.
With the help of the scheme, Brits claimed more than 100million discounted meals over the month of August, Treasury figures showed.
Restaurants also made 130,000 claims worth at least £522m after 84,700 restaurants signed up for Eat Out to Help Out.
According to data from booking site OpenTable, restaurant reservations rose by 53 per cent compared with the Monday-to-Wednesday period in August 2019.
Restaurant bookings surged during the scheme, especially on the final day – Monday 31 August – which saw a 216 per cent jump in bookings against the equivalent day in 2019, according to OpenTable.
"From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before," Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at the conclusion of the scheme.
"Today's figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery."
How did the Eat Out to Help Out scheme work?
THE government covered half of the cost of a meal out, up to £10 per person, including children’s meals.
The discount meant that a meal out for one that cost £20 was reduced to £10, but a £25 meal for one was slashed to £15 because of the £10 cap per person.
There was no limit to the number of times you could use the discount, so in theory you could get half price meals on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August.
Businesses needed to register with the scheme on Gov.uk before being able to offer the discount, as well as be Food Standards Agency approved.
Instead of issuing discount vouchers – which the government felt increased the risk of fraud – restaurants, cafes and pubs were able to claim back the cash.
The refund was then transferred into restaurants, cafes and pubs' bank accounts within five working days.
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