Mr Sunak said this morning there would be further measures to get people ‘out and about’ in the hope of boosting the nation’s ailing finances.
This is despite the fact the Government has also been criticised for pushing a ‘nanny state’ plan to ban online junk food adverts, after the Eat Out to Help Out scheme effectively encouraged people to eat fast food.’
One Tory MP said the ‘incoherence’ of the conflicting policies was ‘the sort of thing that is creating problems’ on the Conservative backbenches.
The new lockdown, which came into force last Thursday, is set to come to an end on December 2.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hinted that the successful Eat Out To Help out scheme could make a return to ‘get consumers spending again’ after England’s second lockdown ends
Mr Sunak said this morning there would be further measures to get people ‘out and about’ in the hope of boosting the nation’s ailing finances
The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative ran from August 3 to 31, offering people a 50 per cent discount on meals up to £10 per person at participating restaurants, as ministers tried to get the hospitality industry back on its feet.
Numerous fast food companies took part in the scheme.
‘Eat Out to Help Out’ was to blame for one in SIX coronavirus outbreaks
Eat Out to Help Out played a ‘significant’ role in accelerating Britain’s second wave of coronavirus, a study claimed.
There was a sharp increase in clusters of Covid-19 infections a week after the Government scheme began, according to University of Warwick researchers.
They believe the initiative, which gave diners up to 50 per cent off meals out, was to blame for as many as 17 per cent of new infection clusters between August and early September – one in every six.
The experts looked back at trends in infection rates before, during and after the scheme to work out how it affected the numbers of people testing positive.
Although people had to socially distance in restaurants where the deal was offered, the virus is known to spread more easily indoors and thrives particularly in enclosed spaces.
And Mr Sunak was asked this morning if a new version of the scheme could be introduced to help food outlets after they were hammered again by the latest lockdown.
He told Sky News: ‘We’ll talk about specific measures, but more broadly 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.
‘We’ll have to look forward to the economic situation then and see what the best form of our support.
‘We want to get consumers spending again, get them out and about, we’ll look at a range of things to see what the right interventions are at that time.’
However, the New Year is generally the time when Britons are struggling to shift extra weight put on over Christmas, raising questions about whether a new scheme could encourage more unhealthy eating.
Mr Sunak’s comments came after the Government was strongly criticised for its ‘nanny state’ plan to ban online junk food adverts, even though they had effectively encouraged people to eat fast food via Eat Out to Help Out.
Conservative backbenchers said people should be able to ‘assume responsibility for their own health’ and said the proposals were ‘incoherent’.
Critics of the policy added that it had been ‘designed by fanatics’ and would have ‘no impact on obesity’.
The proposed online advertising ban would apply to food which is high in fat, sugar and salt.
The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a six week consultation on the plan to understand the potential impact of the measures.
But there is a growing backlash because foods such as avocados, Marmite, mustard and hummus could all be affected, as well as meals like fish and chips, and curry.
One Tory MP said: ‘That is the sort of incoherence that is causing problems.
‘Also someone has to make a decision on what junk food actually is and I am not aware of anyone who has actually managed it.
‘I don’t like nannying people. When George Osborne came up with the sugar tax that was bad enough and I think people should assume responsibility for their own health.
‘Far more sensible than a ban on advertising would be an information campaign that treats people like adults.
‘It is not as straight forward as just banning things.’
Mr Sunak was asked this morning if a new version of the scheme could be introduced to help food outlets after they were hammered again by the latest lockdown. Pictured: Mr Sunak with PM Boris Johnson load a delivery van with baskets during a visit to the Tesco Erith distribution Centre in south east London on Wednesday
The proposed ban will target advertisements for foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Pictured: a Big Mac
Another Tory MP questioned why Boris Johnson is proceeding with such a plan.
‘It is a sort of nanny state thing which the PM used to rail against,’ they said.
‘It is sort of anti what you would think Boris stood for.
‘It is not what we should be doing. If they press ahead with it it will annoy a lot of backbenchers.
‘If we were in opposition now we would be complaining merry hell about it.’
Britons tucked into 100 MILLION Eat Out to Help Out meals in August
More than 100million half price meals were enjoyed under the ‘Rishi’s Dishes’ scheme to breathe new life into restaurants, pubs and cafes.
It seems an astonishing 36million meals were eaten on Bank Holiday Monday alone in a final cut price blow out.
On the face of it, that was three times more than on the first three days of the scheme at the beginning of August.
The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has cost the taxpayer £522million to date and the final bill could well top £600million when all the claims are in.
This figure should be set against an original estimate of £500million and suggests Britons love a bargain more than they fear the pandemic.
Many restaurants were fully booked when the scheme came to an end on Bank Holiday Monday with some people warning of queues of up to three hours.
The Treasury said that 84,700 establishments signed up making 130,000 claims worth £522 million. Officials said the higher than expected spending should be seen as a positive in terms of protecting businesses and jobs.
The proposals were also slammed by the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, with head of lifestyle economics Christopher Snowdon warning the ban would impact ‘a huge range of perfectly normal food and drink products’.
‘It will cover everything from jam and yoghurt to Cornish pasties and mustard, and will include all forms of online advertising, including paid-for search engine listings, emails and even text messages – at any time day or night,’ he said.
‘No country in the world has attempted anything like this and with good reason.
‘It will permanently exclude businesses large and small from the primary marketing medium of our time.
‘It is an ill-considered policy designed by fanatics who have mis-sold it to politicians as a ban on “junk food” advertising.
‘It will be hugely damaging to food producers, especially small businesses and start up companies, and will have no impact on obesity.’
Matt Kilcoyne, from the Adam Smith Institute, said: ‘Under the plans, you could advertise a lamb joint as long as it’s uncooked, but if it is roasted you can’t.’
Mr Kilcoyne said the messaging from the Government was ‘muddled’ as many of the foods celebrated by its Food Is Great campaign — including salmon, cream teas and whisky — would be excluded from advertising in the UK.
The Food and Drink Federation said it ‘beggars belief’ the industry had only been given six weeks to respond and ‘it could not come at a worse time for food and drink manufacturers’.
Advertising campaigners said the plans would deal a ‘huge blow’ to a sector already dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the Advertising Association, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Internet Advertising Bureau UK said: ‘To borrow the Prime Minister’s language, this is not an “oven-ready” policy; it is not even half-baked.
‘But it does have all the ingredients of a kick in the teeth for our industry from a Government which we believed was interested in prioritising economic growth alongside targeted interventions to support health and wellbeing.’
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the proposals and said: ‘I am determined to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat.
‘We know as children spend more time online, parents want to be reassured they are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods, which can affect eating habits for life.
‘This will be a world-leading measure to tackle the obesity challenges we face now but it will also address a problem that will only become more prominent in the future.’
One think tank said online adverts for avocados could be banned under the proposals because the fruit is high in fat