THE Government has today announced measures to help get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs.

The measures, which could boost York's major hospitality sector, include an ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount during the month of August.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Commons: “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.

But York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, called the announcement a 'meal deal' and not a real deal. 

Mr Sunak added: “Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”

The chancellor also announced cuts in VAT for the hospitality sector.

Mr Sunak said he wants to see pubs, restaurants, cafes and B&Bs “bustling again”, telling MPs: “At the moment, VAT on hospitality and tourism is charged at 20 per cent.

“So I’ve decided, for the next six months, to cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions.”

Mr Sunak said VAT will be reduced from 20 per cent to 5 per cent from July 15 until January 12 to help, noting: “This is a £4 billion catalyst for the hospitality and tourism sectors, benefiting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere – all helping to protect 2.4 million jobs.”

In response, MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell, called the announcement a 'meal deal' and not a real deal, adding: "We needed a jobs budget, but we got a meal deal not a real deal from the Chancellor.

"Sustained investment in jobs in targetted sectors and local economies was needed today, proper flexibility and transition from the furlough and self-employed schemes and investment in vital services.

"And what about the urgent funding needed for voluntary and community organisations which have carried our country through this crisis; now they are in crisis they didn't even get a mention in the Chancellor's statement." 

Phil Pinder, head of the York Retail Forum, said the announcement is crucial to getting the city's tourism-based economy moving, along with the restaurant voucher initiative.