Rishi Sunak has hinted that we may see the return of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme this winter.
It’s hardly been a week of lockdown and I’m already suffering from a bad case of restaurant withdrawal symptoms. It feels like just yesterday we were eating out to help and getting rewarded for our love of food. It’s true what they say, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Don’t get your hopes up just yet, but the Eat Out to Help Out scheme that we saw in August could make a return after lockdown 2.0 is done and dusted…
The summer scheme offered customers a 50% discount of up to £10pp at supporting venues from Mondays to Wednesdays. Essentially, it gave the hospitality industry the kickstart it needed, bringing punters back into bars and restaurants and boosting the economy after the spring lockdown. Over 100 million meals were consumed over August under the scheme, and whilst more recent evidence has indicated it may have played a part in hastening and heightening the second wave of coronavirus in the UK, the tangible economic benefits mean it may be back before we know it.
The pandemic plunged the UK into the worst recession to date, however things are slowly recovering, according to the Office for National Statistics. They revealed earlier today that the economy has somewhat bounced back with over 15% growth in just a few months. Following the announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was asked whether the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme may return this winter.
Sunak said “Today’s figures show that our economy was recovering over summer, but started to slow going into autumn. We’ll talk about specific measures more broadly but I think it’s right when we finally exit this [lockdown] and hopefully next year with testing and vaccines, we’ll be able to start to look forward to getting back to normal.”
He continued “We’ll have to look at the economic situation then and see what’s the best form of our support. We want to get consumers spending again, get them out and about. So we’ll look at a range of things to see what the right interventions are at the time.”
Although inconclusive, Sunak’s response hinted that the scheme may make a comeback post-lockdown. Media outlets were certainly quick to pounce on the news, although Sunak himself appeared to pour cold water on the idea in a tweet this afternoon.
Still, with the hospitality industry facing another month on the sidelines, the potential return of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme can’t entirely be ruled out. Fingers crossed!