Rishi Sunak signals Eat Out to Help Out will not return

Eat Out to Help Out WON’T be back! Rishi Sunak says he is still ‘proud’ of subsidised dining scheme despite claims it fueled infections – but reveals it will not be repeated

  • Eat Out to Help Out scheme ran in 2020 to encourage people to visit restaurants
  • Rishi Sunak today said he is ‘proud’ of the scheme but it will not be repeated 
  • Scheme provoked controversy after study suggested it drove spike in infections

Rishi Sunak today signalled the Government does not intend to resurrect its Eat Out to Help Out scheme to support restaurants as he insisted he was ‘proud’ of the initiative. 

The Chancellor suggested a similar scheme to the one which ran last summer will not be needed this time around as the nation once again emerges from lockdown.

He said the Government ‘doesn’t have the same concern we had a year ago’ about how people will react to restrictions being lifted. 

The original scheme saw the state subsidise meals to incentivise customers to return but it attracted controversy after a study suggested it was linked to a spike in coronavirus cases. 

Rishi Sunak today signalled the Government does not intend to resurrect its Eat Out to Help Out scheme

The original scheme saw the state subsidise meals to incentivise customers to return but it attracted significant controversy after a study suggested it was linked to a spike in coronavirus cases

Ministers feared that people would be reluctant to return to bars and restaurants after the first lockdown last year. 

Eat Out to Help Out was rolled out by the Treasury in a bid to encourage people to leave their homes and return to normal activities like going for dinner.  

Mr Sunak told BBC Radio’s Newsbeat that there was ‘a big concern that people wouldn’t go out and about’ last year but he does not expect customers to need a similar incentive in the coming weeks.  

The Chancellor defended the policy and said it helped to support millions of workers in the hospitality sector. 

‘It is a scheme I am proud of,’ Mr Sunak told the broadcaster.

‘The scheme was about trying to protect as many of those millions of jobs, of people employed in bars and restaurants up and down the country, and that’s what it did. And we know that it did that.

‘It got people back into work, it protected jobs and that is why I am glad it did what it needed to do.’ 

Mr Sunak, pictured in July last year putting an Eat Out to Help Out sticker in the window of Number 11 Downing Street, insisted he is ‘proud’ of the scheme 

The state-backed programme offered customers a 50 per cent discount, up to £10, on meals and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.

Last year, the Treasury said that more than £849million was claimed by businesses taking part in the scheme, as they served more than 160million discounted meals.

More than 49,000 restaurants, pubs and cafes took part in the scheme.

Eat Out to Help Out faced criticism after research from Warwick University suggested in October that it had driven a ‘significant’ increase in new infections. 

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