Eat Out To Help Out: Rishi Sunak's meal deals cost taxpayers £849m

The soaring cost of Eat Out To Help Out: Rishi Sunak’s discount scheme to help pubs and restaurants cost taxpayers £849million – 70% OVER its £500million estimate – after 49,000 firms claimed for more than 160million meals in August

  • The Treasury estimated that the scheme would cost £500million in total
  • But it overshot the mark by 70% after more than 49,000 businesses made claims 
  • Restaurants accounted for 55%, with pubs accounting for 28% of meals

Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme to help struggling hospitality businesses cost the taxpayer an eyewatering £849million after soaring way over budget, shock figures revealed today.

The Treasury estimated that the scheme to underwrite a discount on meals to encourage people to go out for lunch and dinner in August would cost £500million. 

But it overshot that mark by 70 per cent after more than 49,000 businesses lodged claims for more than £160million meals, statistics released by HM Revenue and Customs revealed today.

It said the majority of claims – 55 per cent – were made by restaurants, with pubs accounting for 28 per cent of meals. 

More than 49,000 businesses lodged claims for more than £160million meals, statistics released by HM Revenue and Customs revealed today

The Government data revealed that the number of meals discounted by the scheme and the total value of claims increased each week as more people used the offer every week before it ended.

An astonishing 36million meals are believed to have been eaten on Bank Holiday Monday alone in a final cut price blow out. 

It also revealed that customers secured an average discount of £5.24 per meal claimed.

HMRC has said that more than 49,000 restaurants, pubs and cafe firms running 78,116 outlets across the country claimed  back £849million by the end of September through the subsidy scheme aimed to boost consumer spending after the first national lockdown. 

Officials said at the time that the higher than expected spending should be seen as a positive in terms of protecting businesses and jobs. 

According to OpenTable data, restaurant bookings increased by an average of 53 per cent on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the whole of August, compared to the same days in 2019. 

Of the claims made, 93 per cent came from small businesses with just one participating outlet. They accounted for 52 per cent of the total discount.

Less than 1 per cent of claims were from businesses with more than 25 outlets, but these businesses made up 34 per cent of the meals claimed for and 27 per cent of the total discount claimed.

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