Rishi Sunak increased Eat Out discount from 40% to 50% at last minute

Final week of Eat Out To Help Out saw restaurant reservations ‘double compared to last year’ as insiders reveal Rishi Sunak increased discount from 40% to 50% at the last minute

  • Last week of Eat Out to Help Out scheme led to doubling in restaurant reservations compared to same period last year, Treasury says
  • Scheme was the result of ‘weeks of brainstorming’, according to insiders
  • Rishi Sunak decided to increase discount from 40 per cent to 50 per cent 

The last week of the triumphant Eat Out To Help Out scheme led to a doubling in restaurant reservations compared to the same period last year, Treasury projections suggest.

Insiders say the scheme – which ends tomorrow – was the result of ‘weeks of brainstorming, debate and modelling’, with the Chancellor playing a key role in the success by deciding at the last minute to change the plan from a 40 per cent off deal to 50 per cent off – realising it would stick in minds more and make the calculation much easier.

Mr Sunak’s advisers had urged him to prioritise the hospitality industry because 1.4 million people working in it had been furloughed, and 76 per cent do not have a degree or higher qualification, putting them at greater risk of long-term unemployment.

Insiders say the scheme – which ends tomorrow – was the result of ‘weeks of brainstorming, debate and modelling’, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak playing a key role in the success by deciding at the last minute to change the plan from a 40 per cent off deal to 50 per cent off

The last week of the triumphant Eat Out To Help Out scheme led to a doubling in restaurant reservations compared to the same period last year, Treasury projections suggest (pictured: people enjoying lunch in Covent Garden, London, August 26, 2020)

The idea of a pre-paid card was rejected due to the challenges of producing 50 million debit cards.

During the first three weeks, over 64million discounted meals were claimed in more than 80,000 restaurants – the equivalent to every person in the UK making use of it once.

By the third week, the increase in reservations on the Mondays to Wednesdays when it applied had reached 61 per cent, and last week is thought to have hit 95 per cent.

So far, more than £336million has been claimed back from the Treasury, meaning it may ultimately cost more than the £500million estimate.

A source said: ‘We hope it does overshoot because it means more people getting back in the habit of eating out and more jobs saved.’

Now it’s Michael Gove versus Rishi Sunak: Cabinet heavyweights square up to see who will be Boris Johnson’s heir

By Glen Owen and Brendan Carlin for the Mail on Sunday

The next General Election might be more than four years off and Boris Johnson has dismissed claims he could stand down next year due to ill health – but that has not stopped Tory MPs from engaging in their favourite pastime – leadership speculation.

And the consensus is, when the time comes, it is likely to be the ‘experience and intellect’ of Michael Gove versus the ‘charm and charisma’ of youthful rising star Rishi Sunak.

The chattering about how long Mr Johnson plans to serve in No 10 increased last week after The Times reported that the father-in-law of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s most powerful adviser, had told one of its readers that Mr Johnson would stand down in six months because of the continuing effects of his coronavirus infection.

The scenario is rejected by MPs as highly unlikely, but many think Mr Johnson might step down in 2023 to give his successor time to settle in to No 10 before the 2024 election.

Friends of Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister, say they expect him to run for the party leadership then, despite the formidable threat posed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak has seen his public ratings soar during the coronavirus crisis – above Boris Johnson’s – due to successes such as his Eat Out To Help Out scheme

Friends of Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister, say they expect him to run for the party leadership then, despite the formidable threat posed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak has seen his public ratings soar during the coronavirus crisis – above Mr Johnson’s – due to successes such as his Eat Out To Help Out scheme. The Chancellor is also building a powerful government-in-exile at the Treasury. But Mr Gove also has a strong Whitehall network, having seeded a string of former aides into powerful positions across government – ‘most of them called Henry’, in the words of one observer.

Both men are also jostling for prime position as the effective ‘chief executive’ of the administration, with Mr Johnson as ‘chairman of the board’.

While Mr Sunak, 40, has the machinery of the Treasury at his disposal, Mr Gove, 53, sits on a series of powerful Cabinet committees and is central to the key preparations for Brexit.

The speculation has been fanned by mounting backbench dissatisfaction over repeated Government U-turns, with Tory backbenchers using Whats-App groups to vent their anger. The Mail on Sunday spoke yesterday to several Tory MPs who expect the Prime Minister to stand down before the next Election.

One said: ‘No one could blame Boris for not wanting to fight another General Election after what he’s been through with Covid and the virus crisis. I also don’t think he would want to cling on to the job. He’ll want to get Brexit done, see the virus crisis safely sorted out and ensure the economy’s back on track.’

The chattering about how long Mr Johnson plans to serve in No 10 increased last week after The Times reported that the father-in-law of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s most powerful adviser, had told one of its readers that Mr Johnson would stand down in six months because of the continuing effects of his coronavirus infection

Another said: ‘He wanted to be PM and he wanted to have been PM – but does he actually like doing the job?’

One ally of the Chancellor went further to insist that Mr Sunak had to be the next leader. The MP said: ‘Rishi stands out as the best choice to succeed Boris. He’s performed superbly in the face of the pandemic when many other Ministers have been found wanting.

‘Having our first ethnic minority Prime Minister would be massive for the party and for the country.’

However, one former Cabinet Minister cautioned that Mr Sunak, who only became Chancellor in February, was potentially at the height of his popularity.

He said: ‘We may well be at peak Rishi now. He’s got all the plaudits for the virus furlough schemes and responding to the crisis decisively.

‘But who knows where we’ll be when the furlough ends and un-employment really starts to climb in the winter.’

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