Eat Out to Help Out 50% off scheme will finish at the end of August - but will it be extended?

When does the 50% off scheme end - and could the government or individual restaurants extend the deal into September? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Eat Out to Help Out, the government scheme which allows customers to eat out for half price throughout August, has been used more than 64 million times in its first three weeks, according to the latest Treasury results.

But when does the 50% off scheme end - and could the government or individual restaurants extend the deal into September?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Eat Out to Help Out?

Announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in July, Eat Out to Help Out aims to help boost the hospitality industry as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Restaurants, pubs and cafes are offering 50 per cent off the bill, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head, throughout August.

For example, a meal that costs £20 will be reduced to £10, and a meal for a family of four that comes to £80 will instead cost £40.

The discount applies to all food and soft drinks when customers dine in at venues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, however it doesn’t include alcoholic drinks.

Where does the discount scheme apply?

Any hospitality business that serves meals is able to sign up to the scheme, including independently run eateries and high street chains.

The discount only applies to meals eaten out, so you will still have to pay full price for your takeaway, even if you order it from a restaurant.

Businesses have to register with the scheme before they are able to offer the discount and then claim back the money.

When does the discount end?

The discount runs until the end of August, with the last day being Monday 31 August, which is also a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Will the scheme be extended?

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is not currently set to be extended past the end of August. However, several small businesses have recently united to urge Rishi Sunak to extend the Eat Out to Help Out scheme further than the end of August.

Mike Cherry, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said in a statement: "The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been an overwhelming success in getting people back on their high streets and in their town centres.

"We now need to see it extended to continue the critical support that it is providing for small firms as we enter a period of economic make or break.”

Some restaurants, including chains such as Harvester, Toby Carvery and Pizza Pilgrims, have said that they will continue to offer the Eat Out to Help Out scheme into September, funding it themselves, due to how successful is has been so far.

There’s also been calls in Aberdeen for the scheme to be extended, as the town went into a local lockdown during the first week the discount was offered, forcing restaurants and pubs to cancel bookings. However, the Treasury has rejected these calls.

A UK Treasury spokesman said: “Our Eat out to Help Out scheme is one part of our wider package of UK-wide support that has helped firms across the Scottish hospitality sector, adding that “While it would be for the Scottish government to consider any further assistance for specific Scottish regions, the UK government keeps all support schemes under review.”

However, New Chapter, an award-winning family-run restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town, have announced that they will extend the Eat Out to Help Out offer beyond the scheme’s end date of 31 August.

Under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, New Chapter’s customers have been able to enjoy the popular lunch menu for as little as £10 for two courses and dinner from £14 for two courses.

The offer has been so popular that the restaurant owners decided to offer it for another month.

56 North, also located in Edinburgh, has also decided to extend the offer themselves.

They posted on Facebook, saying: “Due to the huge demand we’ve decided to extend our #eatouttohelpout for September and October ourselves! 50% off food up to £10pp and all we ask is you pre book a table online selecting the offer when booking.

“We'd still encourage you to use the deal during August where we get the government support to help us”.