Take action now to support your town centre this August

Published 14 July 2020
Last updated 15 July 2020

Make your town centre the place to be for breakfast, lunch or dinner this August with the government paying up to half the cost

Attract customers back to your town centre. Support businesses selling food and drink for eating in. Discover new tastes through August. The Government's Eat Out to Help Out funding is a real opportunity to boost footfall and spend.

For this to happen, venues in your centre with a dining area or shared area must register to provide a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10, for food or non-alcoholic drinks that are eaten or drunk on the premises. This will apply to food sold all day on 13 days in August and there is no minimum spend requirement.

The funding from government will be available for meals and drinks consumed from 3rd to 31st August on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The discount will only apply in businesses that are registered with the government and the discount is claimed back by the business from government.

Welcoming the funding, HSTF Executive Director says "This is a great initiative from government to support high streets. To be fully realised, place managers need to take an active role to encourage restaurants, bars, cafes and other places serving food for eating in, to register and make this offer. There is no cost to business for taking part but they have the chance to boost sales. It is great for customers as well as they will get an immediate reduction in the cost of their meal or drink."

"We are asking all town centre managers and partnerships, BIDs, tourism and destination managers, and local authorities working on COVID recovery to get involved in promoting this initiative. We have summarised what you need to know and provided links to guidance here. Time is short, you need to act quickly but let's take this opportunity."

Who is eligible?

The Government guidance says that eligible establishments are those in which food is sold for immediate on-premises consumption. This could include:

  • restaurants
  • cafés
  • public houses that serve food
  • hotel restaurants
  • restaurants and cafes within tourist attractions, holiday sites and leisure facilities
  • dining rooms within members’ clubs
  • workplace and school canteens

If the business is of this type, they are eligible to take part even if they have had other support from government under COVID funding programmes. Businesses must have registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July


The discount will only apply for food and drink consumed immediately in a dining area. There is guidance as to how this is determined:

  • Hotels: for food and drink consumed in the restaurant but not elsewhere. In addition, food and drink included in the accommodation cost (ie Bed & Breakfast) is excluded.
  • Mobile vans and takeaways: They are ineligible for the scheme, even if they have casual seating around them unless they have the facility to offer dining on the premises.
  • Private parties, functions, events: The discount does not apply to these even in a venue that can offer discounts in the normal course of business.
  • Catering services: They are not eligible for the scheme
  • Service charges: This is not part of the scheme and cannot be included when applying the discount

What to do now:

  1. Contact every business with a dining area or shared dining area to make them aware of this opportunity.
  2. Explain the need to register and the benefits of the scheme
  3. Make any exclusions clear
  4. Ask each dining venue to inform you if they register so that central promotion of the town can take place
  5. Prepare a local marketing campaign to promote the scheme, the town and the venues taking part. Make use of national promotional materials (see below)

How else is government helping?

Venues that register will get access to free marketing materials from government and a display sticker will be sent to them.

The government will be doing national promotion of the scheme on radio, media and through advertising. It will list venues taking part online.

It is encouraging local campaigns but using the official logo

It is offering access to free webinars, a YouTube video and webchat service as well as a dedicated helpline for businesses and guidance on how to make claims.


Does this apply to cafes with outside seating? Yes as long as you have indoor seating and the outdoor is part of a dedicated space for the café

Does this apply to shopping centre outlets with shared seating areas? Yes as long as the food and drink is for immediate consumption in the designated area

What about stalls at a stadium or attraction? Only if there is a dedicated area belonging to you for use by your customers

Does this apply with other discounts offered? Yes but to calculate the value of the transaction and make a claim to HMRC, you must first apply any special offers, vouchers or discount schemes you might be promoting or accepting and deduct any service charge. You will only be reimbursed for the qualifying discounts you provide as part of the scheme.

Can I offer less than 50% discount: No. The terms of the scheme cannot be changed

Who counts as a ‘diner’? A diner is any person, adult or child, for whom food or drink is being purchased for consumption on premises. A diner does not need to be the paying customer.

What happens with more than one diner in a group? Where there is more than one diner on a single bill, the cap does not need to be calculated for each individual diner based on their specific orders. Instead, the discount that is applied to the overall bill should be capped at the number of diners multiplied by £10.

Registration and more information:

Information on how to register and registration link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-your-establishment-for-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme

Download national promotional materials: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eat-out-to-help-out-scheme-promotional-materials

Detailed guidance on eligibility and exclusions: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/get-more-information-about-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme/get-more-information-about-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme