BARGAIN hunting diners have been pushing the Eat Out to Help Out discount to the max and saving hundreds of pounds by paying for courses separately – in the same restaurant.
“Several restaurants” reportedly told The Telegraph that hungry diners had asked to split the bill between courses to save, although most told the paper they’d declined to do so.
Trade body UK Hospitality also told The Telegraph it was aware of people using this loophole to boost savings.
Under Eat Out to Help Out, diners can get 50 per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 a head, if they dine in at participating restaurants from Mondays to Wednesdays in August.
So the most a family of six would save on a three-course meal at the same restaurant would be £60.
The government picks up the bill for this discount in a bid to boost the ailing hospitality sector.
But under this new loophole, the same table of six could theoretically save up to £180, as they’d could get up to £10 off each course.
Of course, to save this maximum figure that would mean they’d have to order a starter, main, and dessert each costing at least £20.
HM Treasury told The Telegraph this is allowed but encouraged diners to “respect the spirit” of the initiative.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, also warns diners to tell restaurants in advance of their plans rather than being left disappointed.
She told The Telegraph: “Asking to be billed separately for individual courses is not against the system. Businesses can claim back the money anyway, so, in theory, everybody benefits if the discount is applied that way.
“It might cause administrative headaches for some businesses, though. So, it is a good idea if customers talk to the business, ideally when they make their booking, to explain that’s how they want to be billed.”
More than 64million meals have been purchased under Eat Out Help Out, according to the latest government figures.
If you’re hoping to give this trick a go though, bear in mind that the last day to benefit from the scheme is bank holiday Monday on August 31.
The Treasury says the scheme isn’t set to continue after this date, although some chains and independent firms have committed to running similar deals for part or all of September.
Harvester and Toby Carvery, for example, will give diners 50% off mains on Mondays to Wednesdays for the first two weeks of September, while Pizza Hut will offer 2for1 on main meals only.
Some diners had already been getting around the £10 per person limit by eating three courses at three different restaurants.
So a starter at a casual pub, for example, followed by a main at a restaurant, and a dessert at a gelateria.
Others had been going out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at different venues – and one mum we spoke to has been out 18 times to make the most of the scheme.
The Sun has contacted HM Treasury and UK Hospitality.