The first arrests have been made over alleged fraud linked to the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme.  Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) arrested three men in London on 4 November on suspicion of cheating the public revenue and fraud by false representation.

The men are aged 43, 48 and 37, and are suspected of exploiting Eat Out to Help Out, which was unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to encourage people to go to restaurants.

Kath Doyle, the deputy director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said:

“The vast majority of businesses will have used Eat Out to Help Out responsibly but we will not hesitate to act where we suspect abuse of the scheme.

“This is taxpayers’ money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.”

The scheme, which offered a 50% discount of up to £10 per person during August to boost the hospitality sector, was used for more than 100 million meals across the UK.

The government’s initiative was designed to boost the economy after the national lockdown, and allowed pubs and restaurants to offer heavily discounted meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

We believe that this is likely to be the first of many arrests as HMRC starts to tackle perceived abuses of the Government support package.

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