HMRC has now released more details about how the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme will work when it begins next month.
The aim of the initiative is to help the hospitality sector, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus lockdown, by allowing businesses to offer a discount to diners to encourage them to eat and drink there at times of the week not usually as busy as the weekend.
The taxman says business can use the scheme all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from August 3 until August 31.
They can offer a 50 per cent discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.
There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme and there is no minimum spend requirement.
However, customers cannot get a discount for someone who is not eating or drinking and alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.
Food or drink that is to be consumed off premises or is sold as part of a private party, event or function is also excluded, HMRC guidelines reveal.
Registration will close on August 31 and you can register if your establishment:
• sells food for immediate consumption on the premises
• provides its own 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 July 7
You cannot register an establishment that only offers takeaway food or drink, catering services for private functions such as weddings or if you run a hotel that provides room service only. Mobile food vans or trailers are also not eligible.
HMRC also warns that if an application is based on “dishonest or inaccurate” information, the registration will be revoked.
To register, you must have:
• the Government Gateway ID and password for your business – if you do not have one, you can create one when you register
• 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
• the date your business started trading
You may also need your VAT registration number, employer PAYE scheme reference number and Corporation Tax, Self Assessment or Partnership Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference
If you are registering 25 establishments or less, you must provide the details of each.
However, 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, which may help attract more customers to your establishment.
You may also need to provide a list to HMRC on request, with details of all participating establishments.
Fraud and compliance checks will be carried out when you register for the scheme and make a claim. An agent cannot apply on your behalf.
If the business has used other schemes like Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self Employed Income Support Scheme, it can still register.
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 is dining in and then takes away the remainder of their meal, the discount will still apply.
If you include a service charge on your bill, it is not included in the scheme discount.
You can use the scheme alongside other offers and discounts you are offering. However, HMRC says you cannot change the terms of the scheme, the discount you offer must be 50 per cent.
The Government website also includes promotional material available to either print or use on social media using the link: