Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons

How cheeky is Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s cheeky Nando’s?

Or #EatOutToHelpOut

Is it me or does ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ seem like the kind of slogan a handyman would have on the side of his van if he was a very hands on man in a porn film?

If it hasn’t happened already then you can bet someone somewhere is writing the script for Eat Out to Help Out: The Meals are Hot but the Sex is Hotter while you’re reading this.

But with August three weeks away the only footage we have so far is the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, serving food in Wagamama (watch the video below and ‘enjoy’ his efforts trying to get the right food to the right customers) . This made my colleague, and Wagamama enthusiast, very happy but a former colleague pointed out the lack of PPE when the Chancellor was serving.

This video is much better with sound
Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his ‘mini Budget’ in the House of Commons before hotfooting it to a nearby Wagamama for a presscall. (Picture is screengrab from Parliamentlive.tv)
Katsu Chicken Curry2 by GordonFlood
The katsu curry served by Chancellor Rishi Sunak seems a lot less saucy than this one (“Wagamama” by gordonflood.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

To recap – and for anyone reading this from outside the UK – as part of the Chancellor’s plan to get the UK back on its feet and recovering from coronavirus he is bringing in a scheme to get people eating out at restaurants.

Anyone dining out on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday will be able to get half off their meal – but only a maximum of £10 per person and only at restaurants that have registered for the scheme.

To recap a bit more – when Fiskal Policy was first dreamt up in the glamorous setting of Quadrant House in Sutton years ago the idea was to have some posts about life and some about fiscal policy, so it’s more than a clever name.

As fiscal policies go the restaurant plan, as outlined by the Chancellor in his mini-Budget last Wednesday, is an interesting one.

It isn’t the £500 high street voucher the Resolution Foundation recommended to get people spending on the high street.

I had plans to buy a sofa, a vacuum cleaner and a TV (obviously I would have added on a bit of money to the £500) but instead we have been presented with the kind of over-complicated scheme a big charity might think up – you can have half-price food but only up to £10 off and only on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and only if the restaurant you want to eat at is registered on the scheme and only if they fill in all the necessary paperwork.

Yes, while France and Germany are putting their weight behind a green recovery plan for EU countries, we have cheaper Nando’s. 

I’ve nothing against Nando’s and had some nice times in the Bromley restaurant when going out with someone who knew the calories of almost every every item on the menu and more recently in Greenwich with someone who will always make way for the real comedy.

Nando gets a makeover by Torika
The Nando’s cockerel has been given a bit of a makeover (Image by ToranasaurusRex is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Extra hot Nando's by Un Un
How spicy do you like your Nando’s? (“extra hot” by nurun is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Lots of Nando's sauces by Roberrific
A collection of Nando’s sauces like these will probably have to remain a distant memory while social distancing measures are in place in restaurants (“Peri Peri Sauce Stockpile at Nandos Oshawa Location” by Roberrific is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

My concern is that smaller chains and independents could go under more quickly if there is too much paperwork before they can be on the scheme – and if the money isn’t paid by the Government very quickly so it will be interesting to see if cheaper food is enough of an incentive to get them dining out.

There is also the uncertainty in the future potentially putting people off from going out.

We have often been told we will be facing the worst recession ever (worse than the Great Depression and you know something is bad when history precedes it with the word great) so a lot of people are likely to be holding their purse strings very tightly.

I’m not sure whether I’ll partake in the scheme when it comes in August – mostly because I rarely go out for dinner (I’m going to die alone) and when I do I tend not to frequent the so-called family friendly chains that have announced they have signed up to the scheme so far – like Harvester, Frankie & Benny’s, Toby Carvery, Burger King and Pizza Hut.

Nothing against them as such but I live in London so – smugness alert – there is always somewhere nicer to go. 

And also because I’m now so confused by the COVID – stay alert, test your eyesight by driving to Barnard Castle rules.

If I did go out for dinner who can I eat with? If I have to stay two metres away from friends if I see them on the street then is it okay for us to sit less than two metres away when eating a meal? Does going out for dinner count as an ‘essential’ reason to go on public transport?

Maybe this is going to be the biggest masterstroke ever, but the glee with which Rishi Sunak made the announcement in the House of Commons before doing a media push in a Wagamama sits a bit uneasily with me after the Government was so reluctant to give £15 a week over the summer holidays to children who qualify for free school meals, until Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford stepped in. 

I know free school meals won’t stimulate the hospitality industry in the way this food incentive may do. But it should still have been something they committed to much earlier on.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak showd their appreciation for NHS workers by clapping for them
Royal Stoke University Hospital car park by Glosters
NHS staff may soon have to pay to park their cars where they work (Royal Stoke University Hospital. car park by Glosters is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

After the school meals u-turn I’m hoping for another one with the talk of the Government reinstating parking charges for NHS workers.

Yes, the same NHS workers Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak used to like being filmed clapping for on a Thursday evening, including the ones who saved the Prime Minister’s life, may soon have to pay to park in their hospital carparks.

The charges had been suspended since April 1 to thank them for their efforts in fighting off a pandemic from within a chronically underfunded healthcare system and surely after the year they have had (it feels like a year!) they should stay that way.

Stay safe for another week!