Eat Out to Help Out 'could return over winter'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hinted Eat Out to Help Out could return this winter to boost the economy.

The news comes as it was revealed this morning that the UK economy bounced back from recession with 15.5% growth in three months.

Mr Sunak was asked if a new version of his popular scheme could be introduced after the end of the second lockdown in England.

‘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,’ he told Sky News.

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‘We’ll have to look at 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, so we’ll look at a range of things to see what the right interventions are at that time.’ 

The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme ran from August 3 to August 31, offering people a 50% discount on meals up to £10 per person at participating restaurants from Monday to Wednesday.

A large number of restaurants took part and it helped get the hospitality industry up on its feet.

Despite the good news about the economy this morning, the Chancellor warned there was still a slowing of growth in the autumn, even before new lockdowns were brought in.

The Office for National Statistics said the rebound out of negative growth caused by the first lockdown measured 15.5% in the three months before October.

It saw the economy bounce back from the 19.5% contraction in the second quarter, which plunged the UK into the deepest recession on record.

Mr Sunak said: ‘Today’s figures show that our economy was recovering over the summer, but started to slow going into autumn.

‘The steps we’ve had to take since to halt the spread of the virus mean growth has likely slowed further since then.

‘But there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic on the health side – including promising news on tests and vaccines.’

Economists have warned the country could see a ‘double dip recession’ due to the second national lockdown this month.

Although some may welcome the news of a possible return of the scheme, others may be concerned it could cause another spike in infections.

Research from University of Warwick suggests the initiative may have been responsible for 8% to 17% of new Covid-19 clusters in August and September, and accelerated the second wave of the disease.

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