Could dining-out scheme be a recipe for disaster?

Could dining-out scheme be a recipe for disaster? How Britons are ALREADY devising ways to cheat Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out’ deals by having starter, main and dessert in DIFFERENT restaurants (while risking spreading Covid)

  • Customers plan to avoid straying beyond the £10 cap on Eat Out To Help Out 
  • By hopping between restaurants between courses, diners hope to save money
  • MailOnline understands the Treasury will not try to close this ‘loophole’ 

Rishi Sunak’s half-price meals announcement has already been picked apart by savvy diners plotting to rinse the scheme by going out for a ‘safari supper’.  

Customers plan to avoid straying beyond the £10 cap on the Chancellor’s 50 per cent discount program by hopping between restaurants for each course.

People pointed out that if a customer racked up a £30 bill on a three-course meal, they would be charged £20.

Yet if they visited three different places for each course and spent £10 at each place, they would only be charged £15.  

MailOnline understands the government will not try to close this ‘loophole’ because its priority is for people to spend money, paving the way for people to offload more of their meal cost on to the taxpayer. 

Under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme unveiled in the Summer Statement yesterday, the Treasury will pick up half of the tab for restaurant and pub food bills from Mondays to Wednesdays in August – up to a maximum of £10 per head. 

Participating businesses such as Wagamamas and Burger King will then claim the lost money back from the Exchequer.

Intertwined with Mr Sunak’s 15 per cent reduction in VAT for food, diners will be able to eat out at a fraction of the normal price next month.

The salivating incentive of bargain prices is hoped to lure back people potentially nervous about visiting restaurants while Covid-19 is still present and get the ailing hospitality sector back on its feet.

And in a series of measures to breathe life back into the hard-hit economy:

  • Stamp duty threshold will increase from £125,000 to between £300,000 and £500,000 for six months to boost housing market;
  • A radical plan to pay the wages of up to 300,000 young people on Universal Credit if businesses agree to take them on for at least six months; 
  • A £2billion scheme to subsidise home insulation and other environmental upgrades that ministers hope will support more than 100,000 jobs; 
  • A temporary cut in VAT which is expected to be focused on struggling sectors like hospitality; 
  • Schools, hospitals and other public buildings are to get £1billion to make them greener and more energy efficient; 
  • Some £50million to fund retrofitting of social housing with insulation, double glazing and heat pumps;
  • Nature conservation schemes given £40million to plant trees, clean up rivers and create new green spaces.

Mr Sunak serving customers at a Wagamama restaurant yesterday after announcing he Eat Out To Help Out scheme

Customers plan to avoid straying beyond the £10 cap on the Chancellor’s 50 per cent discount program by hopping between restaurants for each course

How can a ‘safari supper’ save you money? 

STARTER – £14 

MAIN – £20 

DESSERT – £10 

Total price if you stay in same restaurant = £34 (£44-£10)

Price if you go on Safari = £22 (£7+£10+£5)

To swerve the £10 per-person cap, which will almost certainly be exceeded in higher-end establishments, diners were last night hailing ‘restaurant crawls’ and ‘safari suppers’.

One person tweeted: ‘Rishi Sunak well done the new British pub crawl is the Great British Restaurant crawl!’

‘Most main courses are towards £20, so you are encouraging a starter in restaurant 1, a main in restaurant 2 then pudding in restaurant 3. #LetsspreadCovid10’

Another had the same idea and said: ‘Time for a restaurant crawl with 3 different places for starter, main and dessert.’ 

MailOnline understands the Treasury is not planning to prevent customers enjoying so-called safari suppers because it still heralds people flocking to businesses and spending money.

One Twitter user pointed out that Amex cardholders paying at an Amex UK Shop Small restaurant vendor could get £5 back on top of the £10 discount for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

Shortly after announcing his post-Covid mini-Budget to MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Sunak visited a Wagamamas, which was one of the first major chains to come on board with Eat Out To Help Out.

Diners have been planning to ways to save even more money on the Eat Out To Help Out scheme

Eat Out To Help Out: How does it work and when is it being rolled out?

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the month of August, Britons can eat out for a discount price.

At businesses participating in the scheme, diners will receive a 50 per cent discount, up to a maximum of £10 per head.

So if a meal costs £20, the diner will get £10 off, but if a meal costs £30, the diner will still only get £10 off. 

Businesses will claim the money back from the Treasury, which is expected to spend £500million on the scheme. 

Restaurants and pubs are expected to announce their involvement over the coming weeks. 

The discount covers non-alcoholic drinks, but not booze. 

The restaurant’s flagship chicken katsu curry dish costs £10.25, but this will be reduced to £5.13 and likely cut even further to £4.36 when coupled with the 15 per cent reduction in VAT.

Junk food, which is typically at the lower end of the restaurant price range, can be snapped up for extremely low prices, sparking fears of a fast-food feeding frenzy just after Boris Johnson launched a war on obesity.

At Burger King, which has also signed up to the scheme, a Whopper meal will be reduced from £6.49 to £3.25, which will be £2.77 when 15 per cent VAT is trimmed off.

But pricier places will see customers pay far more than half-price as their total bill spirals past the government’s £10 cap.

At Cafe Concerto on Oxford Street, a lobster and beef dish costs £32.95, which will cost the diner £22.95 – or £19.50 with the VAT trim – and therefore only a third will be shaved off.    

Mr Sunak hailed the £500million scheme a ‘creative’ solution to get the restaurant trade thriving again post-lockdown.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the Chancellor said: ‘The final measure I am announcing today has never been tried in the UK before. 

‘This moment is unique. We need to be creative. So to get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs and protect the 1.8million people who work in them, I can announce today that for the month of August we will give everyone in the country an Eat Out To Help Out discount. 

‘Meals eaten at any participating business, Monday to Wednesday will be 50 per cent off up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children.

‘Businesses will need to register and can do so through a simple website open next Monday. Each week in August businesses can then claim the money back with the funds in their bank account within five working days.’ 

The Chancellor’s eye-catching food discount policy was dismissed as a ‘gimmick’ by a leading free-market think tank. 

The Chancellor delivering his summer statement to the House of Commons yesterday

Julian Jessop from the Institute of Economic Affairs said: ‘The Eat Out to Help Out scheme may be a gimmick too far. 

‘It is at least market-led, in that consumers themselves will decide which businesses should benefit. 

‘However, it seems an overly complicated way to deliver a boost to demand lasting just a few days in August.’

But the VAT cut was broadly welcomed by the restaurant and pub trade, which is only just reopening after three months shuttered.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: ‘It is reassuring that the Chancellor singled out hospitality and tourism as a vital part of the UKs economy and a pillar of social life around the UK. 

She added: ‘This significant VAT cut, heightened ability to retain staff and incentives for consumers to eat out together amount to a huge bonus.’

Announcing the VAT reduction yesterday, Mr Sunak said: ‘At the moment VAT on hospitality and tourism is charged at 20 per cent so I have decided for the next six months to cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions. 

‘Eat in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, camp sites and caravan sites. 

‘Attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos. All these and more will see VAT reduced from next Wednesday until January 12 from 20 per cent to five per cent.

‘This is a £4billion catalyst for the hospitality and tourism sectors, benefiting over 150,000 businesses and consumers everywhere, all helping to protect 2.4 million jobs.’      

‘A green light for junk food’: Obesity campaigners blast Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out’ scheme launched on SAME day government told Britons to lose weight or risk Covid this winter… as Burger King cuts price of Whoppers in HALF

By Dan Sales for MailOnline and John Stevens, deputy political editor for the Daily Mail

Obesity campaigners have savaged the government’s plan to offer cut-price meals branding it a ‘green light for junk food’.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday up to £10 a head will be cut off the bills of people eating out in August.

But as names like Burger King confirmed themselves as part of the scheme obesity campaigners questioned the timing of the meal deal bonus.

It came on the same day England’s deputy chief medical officer urged people to lose weight ahead of a potential second coronavirus wave in the winter.

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson had already warned the public needed to slim down to protect themselves from the virus. 

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, claimed it was a ‘green light’ to ‘any old junk menu’

Action on Sugar called for a ‘joined-up policy’ to promote health eating, not junk food

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum said Mr Sunak’s initiative felt like the ultimate buy one, get one free deal – a type of offer previously condemned by health campaigners.

He said: ‘This looks like the mother and father of Bogofs and a green light to promote any old junk menu that the participating restaurant feels it can get away with.

‘With obesity rates ever increasing and now firmly linked to Covid-19, who wants more of the same?

‘Given a little thought Mr Sunak’s scheme to put bums on seats could have been a great idea to educate people into eating better.

‘To introduce it at such a short notice is a massively wasted opportunity.’

 Action on Sugar also laid into the Eat Out to Help Out push saying money should have been directed to a healthy eating drive.

A spokesman insisted: ‘We need joined up policy making that ensures everyone can access healthy food.

‘Discounts on unhealthy food & drink when the focus should be promoting healthy options and better labelling. ‘This could have been an opportunity to discount healthy options that would benefit everyone.’

Katharine Jenner, Nutritionist at Action on Sugar, added to the Telegraph restaurants should be urged to introduce healthier menus.

She said: ‘Encouraging overconsumption seems short-sighted considering the recent evidence which shows those living with obesity have an increased risk of adverse outcomes from Covid-19.’

Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, which represents 40 health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups, said: ‘We hope that this financial boost to restaurants, cafes and pubs will be matched by an equal boost to our health when the Government announces new plans on obesity shortly.

‘The out-of-home sector has a key role to play in helping us all be healthier and the introduction of calorie labelling on menus and adoption of the calorie reduction targets will show they are willing to play their part in improving our nation’s health.’

It came on the same day England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said Britons could protect themselves against Covid-19 by losing weight if the disease struck again.

Dr Jenny Harries warned obesity, proven to increase the risk of coronavirus-infected patients dying, was a risk the UK could ‘do something about’ ahead of winter.

She admitted she was ‘very, very concerned’ about a the threat of second wave of the virus this winter, warning it is ‘still out there’ and Britons should keep protecting themselves.

Dr Harries said: ‘I think myself and colleagues are very, very concerned about looking out for a potential second peak as we move into the autumn.

‘And of course that’s the same time that we start having people presenting with other symptoms which could confuse people – so flu symptoms vary, obviously, and also when our hospitals get busier.

Dr Jenny Harries warned coronavirus hit obese people worse so she urged people to try and lose weight ahead of a possible second wave in the winter

PM pressed for health boost for overweight

Boris Johnson announced he wanted the country to get fitter to bounce back from Coronavirus

He said Britons had to lose weight and said that only the Maltese were heavier.

The PM declared ‘My job now is to get our whole country bouncing back to health, building back to health 

‘This wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others – apart from the Maltese for some reason.

‘It is an issue. Everybody knows that this is a tough one.’

He also showed he was taking his fitness seriously in an interview with the Mail on Sunday when he started doing press-ups.

Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m as fit as a butcher’s dog now.

‘Do you want me to do some press-ups to show you how fit I am?’

He then proceeded to some press ups, despite being dressed in a shirt and tie.

He added: ‘The country is going to bounce forward, and I certainly feel full of beans. Never felt better.’  

‘Make yourself as fit as possible, keep practising that social distancing over the winter.’

Last month Mr Johnson  said he was planning to put the nation on a diet to help people become fighting fit ahead to tackle coronavirus.

He warned Britons were ‘significantly fatter’ than the rest of Europe and claimed only the population of Malta was more overweight. 

The Prime Minister insisted the issues were costing lives and leaving the the NHS with huge bills.

But he refused to be drawn on whether he would now back state intervention such as higher taxes or banning deals on unhealthy food.

Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Johnson he also dismissed ‘complete nonsense’ speculation that he is struggling to recover from the effects of coronavirus, saying that he had lost weight but was not ‘wraith-like’.

He said: ‘Compare I’m afraid this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others – apart from the Maltese for some reason.

‘It is an issue. Everybody knows that this is a tough one.’

‘I think it matters and I don’t think politicians can treat is as irrelevant.

‘My job now is to get our whole country bouncing back to health, building back to health.’ 

Under the Mr Sunak’s scheme, Britons will get 50 per cent off the cost of most meals from Monday to Wednesday in August.

It means an £80 restaurant bill for a family of four would come to £40. But a couple spending £45 would pay £25.

Soft drinks will be included in the deal although alcohol will not.

Meals must be consumed on the premises so takeaway food won’t count. However, the Government is already making it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes to turn pavements, terraces and even car parks into outdoor seating areas. The Eat Out to Help Out discount can be used ‘unlimited times’. 

Burger King will take part in the deal, meaning their famous Whopper burgers (pictured) will now be half price during August

Officials had considered dishing out vouchers to everyone, but decided it would lead to an increased risk of fraud and would take longer to administer.

Businesses will need to register on the Government website to take part, with full details due to be published next week.

Mr Sunak said yesterday: ‘This moment is unique, we need to be creative.

‘To get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs and protect the 1.8million people who work in them, for the month of August we will give everyone in the country an Eat Out to Help Out discount.

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