RISHI Sunak has launched a full throated defence of his flagship Eat Out to Help Out scheme after data showed no link to rising Covid cases.
The incredibly popular £849million scheme launched last August to keep the hospitality industry afloat has come under fire in light of the deadly second wave.
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More than 160 million punters were given 50 per cent off meals to try to get people back into struggling pubs and restaurants, with the scheme credited for getting 400,000 workers off furlough.
Now data published by the Treasury shows areas with the high take up of the scheme also still had the low virus levels between August and October.
The figures show places such as Westminster and Scarborough and North Devon had very high take-up of Eat Out to Help Out, but very low subsequent Covid cases.
Meanwhile Knowsley, Rochdale, Merthyr Tydfil had far higher Covid rates, but lower levels of use of the scheme.
The Treasury said: “These figures confirm that take-up of Eat Out to Help Out does not correlate with incidence of Covid regionally – and indeed where it does the relationship is negative.”
A spokesman said: “As we have done throughout the pandemic, we have worked with creativity and at pace to support individuals and businesses.
“We designed The Eat Out to Help Out scheme to protect 2 million jobs in hospitality, an industry whose employees are at high risk of long-term unemployment in the event of redundancy.
“It protected jobs across the UK by bringing back 400,000 people from furlough while safely restoring consumer confidence.”
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