LONDON – Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged Britain to “eat out to help out” in a bid to boost the economy as it emerges from a lockdown slump. The chancellor said he was “worried about a generation that is scarred by coronavirus” amid reports of job losses across the UK.
“This is a consumption-driven economy,” he told The Times, adding, “People used to, three months ago, go out with their friends or family to go and have a meal.”
“Or buy a car, or upgrade their house, or move house. Go camping, come up to the Yorkshire Dales and go to coast to coast.”
Sunak noted that the public had to “relearn what it’s like to go out again” and added, in what may become his new slogan, “Eat out to help out”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also called on the nation to support local businesses that will open their doors for the first time in more than three months.
However, he added a warning that “the success of these businesses … and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.”
“I can certainly tell you I will buy and drink a pint but not a yard and I will repeat the message to everybody that this is a big turning point for us, we’ve got to get it right. Let’s work together and enjoy summer safely,” he said.
Sunak also told The Times that Treasury analysis showed government support during the lockdown had reduced the damage to average household incomes from 30 percent to around 10 percent. He also claimed that it had helped the poorest the most – although he accepted the young would be hardest hit as measures such as the furlough scheme were phased out.
While the UK economy shrank by a record 20.4 percent in April, the Bank of England’s chief economist said earlier this week that the rebound had been “sooner and faster” than expected. However, annual GDP is still expected to fall by 8 percent as a result of the lockdown.