RESTAURANTS across Southend and Rochford are being encouraged to sign up to the Government's new "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme as it opens for registrations from today.

Businesses who use the scheme will be able to offer a 50 per cent reduction, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in throughout August.

The unique initiative was announced by the Chancellor last week and is aimed at protecting jobs in the hospitality industry by offering an incentive for people to safely return to dining out. 

Customers do not need a voucher as businesses taking part will just remove the discount from their bill and then reclaim the discounted amount through an online service, supported by HMRC.

Claims can be made on a weekly basis and will be paid into bank accounts within five working days.

Welcoming the opening of the scheme, James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: "The hospitality sector is so important to our town and it has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Having spoken to local businesses, I know the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will be a much-needed boost for our restaurants and cafes across Southend and Rochford now they can re-open safely.

"Registration is easy, therefore I would encourage our local eateries to sign up to this unique initiative as soon as possible so they are ready to go from the first Monday of August when the scheme begins." 

Restaurants wanting to take part can do so by visiting: 

Businesses will receive a window sticker to show they are using the scheme and can download promotional items from GOV.UK