Discounts and VAT reductions were revealed in his latest financial statement
A new scheme to encourage people to visit restaurants after the recent lockdown has been announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
As well as offering discounts for people dining out, he also outlined other ideas to help boost the economy including a bonus for companies who keep on furloughed staff, a pause in stamp duty for under £500k and VAT reductions for hospitality businesses.
Many restaurateurs were overjoyed at hearing the latest developments
In his post-COVID lockdown financial statement, Mr Sunak promised that every person in the country would be eligible for a 50% discount off meals eaten out during August 2020. This new incentive has been designed to help boost midweek trade and the so-called ‘eat out to help out’ discount will be available between Monday-Wednesday on meals up to a value of £10. Alcoholic beverages are not covered by the scheme, which also does not apply to takeaway food.
The Chancellor announced the launch of a new website next Monday, through which restaurants, cafes or other food operators can register to take part in the scheme. “Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days," he promised.
Almost all restaurants, many of which reopened last weekend, have had to cut capacity in order to comply with social distancing measures. A significant percentage of tables have been removed making sure that customers stay at least one metre away from each other.
Many restaurateurs were overjoyed at hearing the latest developments, although there is a long way to go to restore people’s confidence in regard to dining out.
VAT will be reduced from 20% to 5% from next week until 31st January 2021 to further boost the struggling hospitality industry.
David Fox, owner of Tampopo - which has branches in Piccadilly Gardens, The Corn Exchange, Albert Square and The Trafford Centre - tweeted: ‘The VAT reduction reduces our budget loss in next 12m from £450k by half. Still a loss. But a huge help. Hopefully “Eat out to Help Out” will encourage demand. Still loss making but no doubt many good businesses and jobs saved.’
UK Hospitality - the organisation representing everything from bars, coffee shops, contract catering, hotels, nightclubs, visitor attractions and other leisure venues, who have been campaigning vociferously throughout lockdown on behalf of the hospitality sector - tweeted: ‘The measures announced today are extremely positive and they should give many businesses in our sector much-needed help to get going again in earnest.’
Some more cautious cynics on Twitter suggested that this was in fact a government-sponsored scheme to spread coronavirus but, during his financial statement, Sunak encouraged consumers to find “that new balance between safety and normality.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, responded to measures in today's summer statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer: ‘The hospitality sector plays a huge role in Manchester's economic, as well as social, life and supports tens of thousands of jobs.
‘It has been a hit hard during the pandemic and any measures which will encourage customers to return and help it get back on its feet are to be welcomed. But we hope the short term measures announced in the summer statement are the first step towards longer term support measures - that this is only the starter.’