Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday announced more billions of pounds to help revive the economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including a plan to encourage people to ‘eat out to help out’ by paying 50 per cent of their bills in pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Delivering his Summer Economic Update in the House of Commons, Sunak announced a package of measures to support jobs, give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, and provide people with the tools they need to get better jobs.

The government paying 50% of customer bills in pubs, restaurants and cafés will be available throughout August, he said, amidst reports of crippling impact on the hospitality and tourism sectors. Dwindling recent figures of new infections have prompted an easing of lockdown curbs.

Officials said the tourism and hospitality sectors – both major employers – have been severely impacted by the pandemic due to necessary closures to protect public health. Nearly 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April and 1.4 million hospitality workers have been furloughed – the highest proportions of any sector.

To encourage demand for businesses to reopen, Sunak set out the new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount scheme that will provide a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August.

Sunak said: “Throughout this crisis I have never been the prisoner of ideology. For me, this has never just been a question of economics, but of values….Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire”.

Since March, the Boris Johnson government has been paying 80% wages of private sector employees and 80% of earnings of the self-employed people, together amounting to billions of pounds, adding to the mounting borrowing bill to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.

The new plans include a temporary rise in the threshold of house prices at which buyers need to pay the mandatory stamp duty to the government: from property worth £125,000 to £500,000 until March 31, 2021 to help revive the housing sector.

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