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There is no such thing as a free lunch!

Posted on 15th July 2020 - News

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Well, there still isn’t, but the government have announced the “Eat Out to Help Out” Scheme for the general public to take a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

The scheme is to encourage diners to eat at your restaurant or similar establishment all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020.

The discount is then claimed from the Government via a cash rebate and the income will be taxable as normal and VAT will be due on the entire amount. See our article on the temporary reduction to the standard rate of VAT to 5%.

There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme and all diners in the party must be eating or drinking for the discount to apply.

Alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.

Who can and how to register:

You can register if your establishment:

  • sells food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • provides its dining area or shares a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • was registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July

You cannot register:

  • an establishment that only offers takeaway food or drink
  • catering services for private functions
  • a hotel that provides room service only
  • dining services (such as packaged dinner cruises)
  • mobile food vans or trailers

To register, you must have:

  • the Government Gateway ID and password for your business (if you do not have one, please contact us and we can arrange this for you)
  • the name and address of each establishment to be registered, unless you are registering more than 25
  • the UK bank account number and sort code for the business (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
  • the address on your bank account for the business (this is the address on your bank statements)

You may also need your:

  • VAT registration number (if applicable)
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number (if applicable)
  • Corporation Tax or Self-Assessment unique taxpayer reference

Details of establishments

  1. If you are registering 25 establishments or less, you must provide the details of each.
  2. If you’re registering more than 25 establishments that are part of the same business, you do not have to provide details for each one.

You should provide a link to a website which contains details of each establishment participating in the scheme including the trading name and address.

You may also need to provide a list to HMRC on request, with details of all participating establishments.


Once you have registered you receive a registration reference number - you’ll need this when you claim the reimbursement. Reimbursements will be accepted from the 7th August 2020 up to the 30th September 2020 (note the discount scheme will end on the 31st August 2020).

Claims can be made on a weekly basis.

You can download promotional materials to help you promote the scheme and let your customers know that you’re taking part.

You’ll be added to a list of registered establishments that will be available to the public when it becomes available.

Businesses that have more than one establishment are encouraged to register all establishments that are eligible to offer the scheme. Once you have registered your business it may be possible to add new establishments, but you will have to contact HMRC again and this may delay the establishment being included in the scheme.

When you start offering the discount

You should wait until you’re registered before you offer discounts to your customers. You cannot offer discounts before 3 August.

When you register for the scheme, it is expected that you will offer it during the whole of your opening hours on all the eligible days that you are open and on all qualifying sales of food or drink.

If a customer purchases a meal with the intention of eating it but then takes it away and leaves the premises, you can still apply the discount.

Records you must keep

For each day you’re using the scheme, you must keep records of the:

  • total number of people who have used the scheme in your establishment
  • total value of transactions under the scheme
  • total amount of discounts you’ve given

If you are using the scheme for more than one establishment, you must keep these records for each.

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