One of the most publicised measures of the Government’s coronavirus support package was the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
The scheme ran throughout August and enabled diners to get 50% discount up to £10 per diner when they ate in a participating restaurant on certain days. According to figures released by the Treasury, the scheme was used 64 million times in the first three weeks of August. So, has the scheme been successful? Did Eat Out to Help Out help out?
The answer to that depends on the metric of success. The first aim was to support the restaurant industry, which experienced a more than challenging few months with forced closures during lockdown. The second aim was to encourage people to return to restaurants, and by doing so support local businesses. With the take-up of the scheme passing the Government’s estimates, it looks like it has helped. The challenge now is to ensure that people continue to go to restaurants and support both local businesses and the economy.
The scheme has received some criticism. Some have claimed that it is a subsidy for people who can afford to eat meals out anyway, so the Government would be better off supporting businesses directly. Others have criticised the fact that the scheme will cost the taxpayer more than the £500m which has been set aside to cover it.