Rishi Sunak ‘played a blinder’ as BoE chief demands new schemes to ‘stimulate the economy’

Eat Out to Help Out 'worth looking at' says Andy Haldane

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Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane showered praise on Chancellor Rishi Sunak for steering the UK’s economy through the worst of the pandemic. But despite critics drawing comparisons between the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and fears it caused spikes in cases, Mr Haldane said Mr Sunak “played a blinder” when he introduced it. The economist added the UK should look into more similar schemes post-pandemic and even welcomed bringing it back to stimulate the economy.

Speaking on LBC, radio presenter Nick Ferrari asked Mr Haldane if the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was a good idea in hindsight. 

Mr Haldane replied: “I think it was important in providing a bit of a giddy-up to the economy over the summer.

“Getting people acclimatized to going out to socialising and to spend.

“Might there, with the benefit of glorious 2020 hindsight, have been a bit too much of a good thing from a health perspective, possibly yes, but I’m not the expert on that to judge.

“But should we have them and should we now be looking to measures that encourage people back into the shops, to the pubs, to the restaurants.

“To stimulate the economy to create those jobs that prevent any more lasting damage.

“Yes, I think those measures are worth looking at.”

Mr Ferrari then brought up the strong praise Rishi Sunak has enjoyed over the pandemic and was curious if Mr Haldane shared those views.

Rishi Sunak is 'determined' to avoid another lockdown in Autumn

He swiftly replied: “I think the Chancellor’s played a blinder.

“Overall I think it was just what the doctor ordered that we went in big and we went in fast with both our monetary policy tools, lower interest rates and quantitative easing.

“And with our so-called fiscal policy tools, increased spending to help those who otherwise would have been out of work.

“To help businesses that would otherwise have gone out of business.

“So this sort of twin-barreled approach from both the Bank of England and the Treasury I think has been essential Nick for putting the lid on unemployment and for keeping the economy out of harm’s way.”

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has come under the limelight once more as critics slam the government for spending £840million on the month-long scheme but allocating £984million on education catch-up programmes over an entire year. 

The hospitality scheme, launched in August last year, allowed diners to get 50 percent off food up to the value of £10 when they dined out. 

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It was hoped the programme would encourage people to return to the high street following months of lockdown and to help the struggling hospitality industry. 

Mr Sunak told BBC Newsbeat he is unlikely to bring the scheme again as the challenges faced this year are different to 2020. 

The UK has now opened up the next round of vaccinations to over-25s as the Government reported record numbers of speedy sign-ups within the first few hours of going live.

But government officials are treading carefully as the country is set to reopen on June 21 where social distancing and other restrictions are no longer enforced by law. 

The rise of new variant cases has led to more supplies and support being sent to cities like Manchester with Mayor Andy Burnham encouraging people to be more responsible in social interactions. 

However, Mr Burnham stressed it was not another lockdown as he told citizens to choose to meet outdoors, limit group sizes and maintain social distancing. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reiterated to the Andrew Marr Show that the June 21 reopening date has always been set as the earliest date the next stage can go ahead. 

But despite the concerns from ministers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is nothing in the data that suggests the date should be delayed but urged caution. 

The Government said it would give at least a week’s notice before announcing any delay.

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