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How can my small business register for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

Get the lowdown on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, including who is eligible, and how to register for the scheme.

Update 7 August: The claims service for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme is now live, full instructions on how to claim are given in the relevant section of this article.

As part of the summer statement on 8 July, the chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which will offer a 25% discount on dine-in food and drink to encourage consumers to return to pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The scheme opened for registrations on 13 July, but there are a few things small businesses should know before signing up.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the scheme, including how it works, who is eligible, how to register, and how to claim money back once you've signed up.

It covers the following areas:


How does the Eat Out to Help Out scheme work?

To help boost the hospitality and tourism sectors, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme offers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks that are consumed on the premises.

Here are the key rules:

  • The discount runs from 3 to 31 August 2020
  • The discount only applies from Monday to Wednesday
  • On these days, you should offer the discount for the whole of your opening hours on all qualifying food and drink sales
  • There is a maximum discount of £10 per person
  • There is no limit to the number of times a customer can use the offer
  • Alcoholic drinks are excluded from the discount
  • The money lost through the discount can be reclaimed from the government every week
  • Registration closes on 31 August

If you register for the scheme, you must keep records of the following:

  • The total number of customers that have used the scheme
  • The total value of transactions under the scheme
  • The total value of the discounts you’ve given under the scheme

Who is eligible for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

✅ You can register for the scheme if your business fulfils the following criteria:

  • You sell food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • You have your own dining area or share a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • You were registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July

The following business types are not eligible for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme:

  • Businesses that only offer takeaway food and drink
  • Businesses that cater private functions
  • Hotels that only provide room service
  • Dining services (such as packaged dinner cruises)
  • Mobile food vans or trailers

How do I register for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

You can register online for the scheme using the Government Gateway user ID and password for your business.

You’ll also need:

  • The name and address of each establishment that you're registering (each branch if you have multiple branches for example)
  • The UK bank account number and sort code for the business (this bank account must be able to accept BACS payments)
  • The address on your bank account for the business (in other words, the address on your business’ bank statements)

You may also need:

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

If you’re participating in the scheme, you can download promotional materials via a government website.


How do I claim the money back?

The claims service is now live, and available via gov.uk.

You can only make a claim 7 days after you’ve registered, and you can only claim for discounts offered on or after the date you registered.

To make a claim, you’ll need the following info:

  • The total number of diners (covers) who have used the scheme, including children
  • The total amount of discount you’ve given through the scheme
  • The period you’re claiming for

There are five periods you can claim for:

  • 3 to 5 August
  • 10 to 12 August
  • 17 to 19 August
  • 24 to 26 August
  • 31 August

If you’re claiming for more than one establishment, such as a small chain of restaurants for example, you’ll need to make sure you have:

  • Records for each establishment
  • The total value of claims for all establishments

If you’re confused about any of this, gov.uk has a detailed Eat Out to Help Out page, including examples of how to calculate the discount.

Once you’ve claimed, your claim will be checked and, if accepted, the money will be paid into your bank account within five working days.

The claims system will close on 30 September.

If you claim too much through the scheme, HMRC won’t be able to correct this until 14 August.

If you claim too little, HMRC won’t be able to correct that until 21 August.

You still need to pay VAT based on the full amount of your customers’ bills.


Key points for your small business

  • The Eat Out to Help Out scheme offers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks that are consumed on the premises
  • The discount only applies from Monday to Wednesday
  • There is a maximum discount of £10 per person
  • Businesses that only offer takeaway food/drink are excluded from the scheme
  • You can register for the scheme online from today (13 July)
  • You will be able to claim money back through an online system that will be available from 7 August 2020

Alec Hawley
Alec Hawley

Alec is Startups’ resident expert on mobiles, investment, and politics. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, writing for computer games sites like Gaming Respawn and Gamespew, and taking on a wide variety of freelance roles.