Din­ers tuck into Eat Out to Help Out

If peo­ple are will­ing to risk all to hunt out a meal deal then they should have no qualms about work­places

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

DIN­ERS flocked back to pubs and restau­rants in their droves to take ad­van­tage of Rishi Su­nak’s Eat Out to Help Out sub­sidy in the days af­ter it launched, fig­ures show.

Sales at man­aged pub and restau­rant groups were a third higher last week than in the pre­vi­ous seven days as cus­tomers raced to take ad­van­tage of the dis­count, which runs from Mon­day to Wed­nes­day in Au­gust and of­fers up to £10 off a meal.

It marks a stark con­trast to trad­ing in July when some of the big­gest pub and restau­rant groups suf­fered a 50pc slump in sales af­ter re­open­ing as lock­down lifted.

Food sales on Aug 3 were dou­ble their level a week ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to data from con­sul­tancy CGA, with a 95pc surge on Tues­day and 106pc on Wed­nes­day.

Sales were also higher than a year ear­lier in an en­cour­ag­ing sign for the in­dus­try, with a 31pc in­crease on Mon­day, a rise of 34pc on Tues­day and 43pc growth on Wed­nes­day.

How­ever, the uplift failed to off­set slower per­for­mance on Thurs­day and Fri­day and at the week­end, with sales for the week as a whole down 9pc from last year.

Packed restau­rants and busy bars bring joy, and per­haps choles­terol, to the heart af­ter months of lock­down and des­o­la­tion on the high street. Rishi Su­nak’s “eat out to help out” scheme has given swathes of pre­vi­ously de­serted eater­ies at least three busy days per week, and seems to have brought out plenty of cus­tomers who would not oth­er­wise have in­dulged.

This colum­nist has so far man­aged three dis­count din­ners when he would usu­ally have stayed at home. It would have been more if so many places had not been fully booked.

It is a spec­tac­u­lar, re­ces­sion-bust­ing start to Au­gust for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. But Su­nak’s sup­pers were not only in­tended to give cafes a one-month boost.

It seems there is a fair chance the Chan­cel­lor has suc­cess­fully re­booted the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try for good. Af­ter all, it would be odd for peo­ple who spent much of Au­gust stuff­ing their faces in pub­lic to coop them­selves back up again from Septem­ber.

Yet even this should not be the ul­ti­mate goal. Rishi’s dishes have reac­quainted us with spend­ing sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time among un­masked strangers. All this gorg­ing has stopped Bri­tons cow­er­ing at home, a key step in restor­ing them to their true free-roam­ing, free-spend­ing selves. If you can sit next to a group of din­ers at the lo­cal curry house, you can also sit a short dis­tance from your col­leagues – back in the of­fice.

Bosses chow­ing down at the Chan­cel­lor’s (or tax­pay­ers’) ex­pense can hardly fail to no­tice this gulf ei­ther. Their staff can­not have it both ways: to si­mul­ta­ne­ously be per­fectly happy to risk in­fec­tion for a ten quid bar­gain, but re­main hor­ri­fied by the haz­ards of the com­mute.

So now is their mo­ment: com­bined with the re­turn of school, the com­ing weeks are an ideal time to re­turn to busi­ness as usual.

A-grade de­ba­cle

It is cru­cial that schools do re­turn, as the fiasco over A-lev­els and Highers has shown. With lit­tle chance to learn and no chance to prove them­selves, pupils’ op­por­tu­ni­ties are dwin­dling be­fore their eyes.

Good grades are ex­tremely valu­able, and so is ed­u­ca­tion it­self.

A study by the In­sti­tute of Fis­cal Stud­ies and the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion in 2015 found that five good GCSEs boost life­time earn­ings by £80,000. Add two A-lev­els to rake in an­other £60,000.

Univer­sity adds more, quickly. By their mid-20s a typ­i­cal grad­u­ate earns 11pc more than their de­gree­less coun­ter­part, says the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Statis­tics Agency.

Add a top univer­sity or high­pow­ered de­gree and the num­bers spi­ral. So be­ing cut off from these op­por­tu­ni­ties with­out tak­ing an exam is cruel in the ex­treme.

It is com­mon for smart Alec adults to ca­su­ally dis­miss school re­sults on the ba­sis that they have not been asked about their GCSEs or A-lev­els in decades. Some claim school knowl­edge is of no use in the wider world, which rather misses the util­ity of ba­sic knowl­edge of lan­guages, say, or the sciences.

It also ig­nores the im­por­tance of arts and so­cial sciences, which con­nect pupils with the wider world and act as a use­ful sig­nal to prove to em­ploy­ers that they are clever.

Cru­cially, this pa­tro­n­is­ing and be­lit­tling at­ti­tude ne­glects the fact that ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reers are a se­ries of step­ping stones.

That know-it-all adult no longer in­cludes A-lev­els on their CV, but if they had missed that first step­ping stone they might never have gone to univer­sity, or strug­gled to get that first job, and re­mained stuck at the bot­tom of the ca­reer lad­der.

The only minute pos­i­tive comes in a dif­fer­ent aca­demic sense.

Econ­o­mists love a “nat­u­ral ex­per­i­ment” when one cru­cial fac­tor changes, al­low­ing them to ex­am­ine the im­pact of a vari­able on the real world. In this in­stance, it is ed­u­ca­tion. What happens when you can­cel months of school? It will be a real gold mine of in­for­ma­tion for fu­ture re­searchers, dig­ging in to the de­tail of pros­per­ity and earn­ings and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately the main re­sult is al­ready clear: trash­ing ed­u­ca­tion is a dis­as­ter, par­tic­u­larly for the poor­est chil­dren who are stripped of their best chance to change their lives for the bet­ter.

Tri­umph from dis­as­ter

If that mis­er­able ex­cuse for a sil­ver lin­ing is too gloomy for you, a more pos­i­tive one might be that the busi­ness school case stud­ies of the fu­ture are be­ing born right now.

This year might seem a par­tic­u­larly fool­hardy year to set out with your own ven­ture. Yet the great­est re­ces­sion for three hun­dred years brings rea­sons to an­tic­i­pate a wave of in­no­va­tion and in­vest­ment.

I am not talk­ing about the ac­cel­er­ated digi­ti­sa­tion of busi­ness. In­stead I am re­fer­ring to the three ba­sics of en­ter­prise, the fac­tors of pro­duc­tion: land, labour and cap­i­tal.

All are ex­tremely cheap right now, in­di­cat­ing the great po­ten­tial for an en­tre­pre­neur­ial growth spurt. Land is cheap. Com­mer­cial land­lords are des­per­ate for busi­nesses to move in and pay rent – any rent.

Un­em­ploy­ment is ris­ing so the skills short­age of re­cent years has sud­denly, painfully, be­come a glut. Snap up staff while you can. And with rock-bot­tom in­ter­est rates and banks un­der or­ders to lend, it is not the worst time to go look­ing for funds.

Just as yawn­ing pen­sion fund deficits made in­dus­trial ti­tans vul­ner­a­ble to plucky up­starts, so new busi­nesses may find they are more able to in­vest and in­no­vate than their in­debted pre-Covid ri­vals.

Com­pa­nies House recorded a rise in in­cor­po­ra­tions in the three months to June. It was the big­gest year-on-year in­crease for a sec­ond quar­ter since 2012. The cor­po­rate suc­cess sto­ries of the fu­ture are be­ing built on a shoe­string right now.

The Chan­cel­lor’s eat out to help out scheme has suc­cess­fully re­booted the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try

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