‘Eat Out to Help Out’ is a Risk – Conservative Article
Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme has now started. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, people can get discounts off of food in participating restaurants until September. The scheme is intended to help revive Britain’s restaurant industry as it was hit hard during lockdown.
The measure received wide praise. But I think the scheme is not as invincible as we would like to think.
Firstly, there has been some confusing messaging around this and another government policy. A greater drive to reduce the levels of obesity was also undertaken with new measures being announced. But pushing this message along with Eat Out to Help Out is more than mixed messaging; it is two policies that conflict with each other.
I do agree with the aims of both policies; obesity is a problem and the economy is in ruins. They both need sorting, but it is not possible to solve both at the same time.
The government should wait until September to toughen up on obesity. This would let people feel like they can spend more on eating out without been hounded by the government to cut down at the same time. This would avoid conflicting policies, aims and messages. The government can’t have its cake and eat it – especially when dealing with obesity, it’s best not to eat the cake at all.
There were other ways to encourage spending that would not have conflicted with the crackdown on obesity. A shopping discount for example. This also would have the benefit of helping to revive the high street, something that was failing before coronavirus.
The second reason the scheme is in danger is more concerning. A recent BBC story said pubs might have to close again so that schools can open in September. Restaurants must surely close as well. If this were to happen, the eat out to help out scheme would be for nothing. Schools must reopen if they can in September and to deny children education because people want a half-price meal is selfish.
The scheme would either have to be pushed back until we’re in a much more stable situation or the government will have to heavily adapt the scheme. It could be abandoned, and different incentives introduced instead. If the scheme were to stay as is, it would be a fatal mixed message. Any of these actions would attract heavy criticism.
Pubs and restaurants closing again would be terrible. Eat out to help out was a popular measure, and this would have a devastating impact on the industry. It would lower the popularity of the government and of Rishi Sunak.
It would almost certainly lead to the perception of a second wave. This would show a failure in the government to control the virus. But part of the blame falls on us. We would have failed to exercise the self-control needed in order to have our economy back.
It’s possible we’re seeing this starting to play out now: Greater Manchester is now under harsher restrictions; the government had to roll back some of its opening up plans; Aberdeen just ordered the closure of pubs, restaurants and cafes; Ireland’s pubs are still shut; Northern Ireland has delayed its reopening plans.
More measures must be taken in order to avoid widespread closures of pubs and restaurants here. While it is important to revive our economy, it cannot be at the expense of our lives or our children’s education. England’s children’s commissioner says that schools ‘must come before pubs and restaurants’. I could not agree more.
The shopping incentive I mentioned above would have been a better option also. Shopping is a lower risk activity than eating out. It is also less susceptible to renewed lockdown measures.
Schools must be chosen over pubs to open. There would be no greater failure than not having schools open in September. While I have stated that having to close pubs again would be a disaster, keeping schools closed would be even worse. Closing pubs again is a sacrifice we might have to make.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
Definitely more mixed messaging, but at least the message is understood – A Liberal Response
I agree that the eat out to help out scheme and the campaign against obesity seem rather contradictory. However, people don’t tend to be obese because they eat out.
If you look into the demographics of those in the overweight population, unsurprisingly it is primarily those who can’t afford a healthy diet who struggle with weight issues. Certainly not those who eat out often.
Additionally, the government’s entire Covid-19 response has been objectively one of the worst in the developed world, and one of the most confusing.
When do masks become compulsory – are they even now? Can I see both my parents on the same day? Should I do a practise drive to test how Covid affects my eyesight or just do the 200 plus miles drive with my fingers crossed?
None of these questions ever really got a clear answer. Instead, they just added to the sense that a lot of policies put in place have been largely symbolic. I mean you either follow the science or you don’t, a virus isn’t a political issue.
And what has science said? Get ready for a worse winter wave.
We might not get a chance to eat out, giving the economy this much-needed injection of demand, for a very long time if scientists’ predictions are correct. However, the summer is the perfect time for restaurants to adapt and utilise the outdoor space to enable social distancing.
With the hit coronavirus has had on personal income, being able to eat out for half price really is one of the few perks of the year.
I do agree that of course education comes first. And it is very likely that the service industry will shut down again, but schools don’t reopen until September. I think we’ve all had to come to terms with the fact that in the face of a pandemic, plans and situations do just change.
I also think this policy has more benefits than have been pointed out. It is helping people get back to work, providing a reason for people to go and socialise and most importantly. providing some sense of normality.
I am usually very sceptical of the use of consumption to solve social problems. However, as someone who loves to eat out and has graduated into one of the greatest economic recessions in history, I am so ready for some half-price food.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Abby Milnes
‘Eat Out to Help Out’ can continue with the right steps – A Labour Response
Eat out to help out was a necessary policy to support the £120 billion hospitality industry in the UK and to protect potentially a million jobs in the sector. But, with rising R rates and the winter months so close, what is the next step?
Undoubtedly, education will be at the top of the government agenda, especially given the ongoing A level fiasco. Schools must reopen but I don’t think this has to signal the end of ‘Eat out to help out’.
The priority over this month must be to improve the track and trace system; without a more robust system, any policy the government makes to reopen society is condemned to failure. The decision to reduce national track and trace operations in favour of localised administration may be a shrewd choice that improves compliance and data collection levels.
Whilst encouraging spending is beneficial for the economy, we must also remember those without the extra income to use on either high street shopping or meals out. The ‘tackling obesity’ scheme will end up affecting disproportionality those on lower incomes. The scheme has been introduced to help people fight off Covid-19 should they get it. But with the years ahead set to be a period of a huge recession, forcing people to spend more money on essentials like food is misguided.
The government seems very out of touch. Disposable income is a luxury not everyone has. I acknowledge obesity is an issue in the UK but now really is not the time to be broaching the subject.
As Covid rates rise, I would hope to see some big changes in government policy. Masks should be mandatory at all times outside, this has been hugely effective in South Korea and American states such as Massachusetts. New demands on schools need to be backed by increased budgets so they can help all children – no matter their socio-economic position – continue their education. Even when schools do reopen, there will still be great numbers unable to attend due to medical vulnerability, either in themselves or close family.
As always, nothing is simple and the government needs to do better with the details rather than just creating soundbite flagship policies.
To summarise, I think ‘Eat out to help out’ and schools reopening can occur simultaneously, but these steps forward rest on improvements to the track and trace system. The government also needs to do more to make sure their policies do not worsen the economic challenges faced by the poorest in our society.
Coronavirus has not been defeated. Social distancing and PPE remain vital and need to be used on a greater scale to stave off a second wave.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Henry Mckeever