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JANET STREET PORTER: Nice try, Rishi

Every time I go shopping, I leave with vouchers, a wad of extra paper with promising money, and discounts on my next purchases. Loyalty in the hard-fought battle between supermarkets and discount stores can only be bought with cash, not quality.

I spent £ 60 today at Marks and Spencer’s Food Hall and was rewarded with a whopping £ 9 discount on my next visit. Retail is in free fall as an iconic brand like M&S is forced to offer huge bribes to convince shy consumers or go to the wall.

Now, facing an economy that is plummeting 25%, the prospect of millions of job losses and an audience too brave to leave the house for fear of infection, the UK government has decided to pursue the same market stall strategy.

Simply put, they should compel us to spend a lot of time supporting our cracking economy so that no more jobs are lost and no more closings happen.

Billed as 'Eat out to help' the ailing catering industry, there are conditions attached. In the photo: a Nando's restaurant in Leicester

Billed as ‘Eat out to help’ the ailing catering industry, there are conditions attached. In the photo: a Nando’s restaurant in Leicester

Rishi Sunak (photo delivering his mini budget to the House of Commons on July 8) today unveiled his new plans

Rishi Sunak (photo delivering his mini budget to the House of Commons on July 8) today unveiled his new plans

Rishi Sunak (photo delivering his mini budget to the House of Commons on July 8) today unveiled his new plans

Talking Smoothly Dishi Rishi is blessed with natural sales, able to make a summer economic statement (in a country with no cash in the bank and debt to his ears) and it sounds like he’s giving away thousands of cash prizes to lucky winners of the lottery.

He is blessed with the smooth delivery, the genuine good intentions and the shiny 500 watt smile of a game show host.

It may seem shocking to point out that these exciting ‘offers’ discounts here and there for dinner dates, traineeship scholarships, incentives for employers to hire unskilled youngsters, and a new army of career counselors are all failing the big ones question facing the government. What kind of economy will really benefit the UK in the long run?

Rishi has decided it is ‘business as usual’ – the public should get off the back of their mind and spend – buy things we don’t need, clothes made by slaves or at least women with less than the zero wage minimum contracts and no job security.

We have to eat out to save jobs in the hospitality industry, because that is our ‘national duty’.

And he’s even going to help get the tab.

Billed as ‘Eat out to help’ the ailing catering industry, there are conditions attached.

Companies that register receive government funding for a 50% discount on meals or hot takeaways with a maximum discount of £ 10 – but only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

And this meal deal doesn’t apply to booze – so publishers should just go and serve food if they want to cash in. (How this ‘food to save Britain’ strategy fits Boris Johnson’s new plan to get us all on a diet has not been explained.)

Rishi has decided it is 'business as usual': the public has to get rid of the back of their head and spend the money. Pictured: A shopper is wearing a protective mask while shopping during the coronavirus pandemic

Rishi has decided it is 'business as usual': the public has to get rid of the back of their head and spend the money. Pictured: A shopper is wearing a protective mask while shopping during the coronavirus pandemic

Rishi has decided it is ‘business as usual’: the public has to get rid of the back of their head and spend the money. Pictured: A shopper is wearing a protective mask while shopping during the coronavirus pandemic

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks with guests while visiting a Wagamama restaurant in central London

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks with guests while visiting a Wagamama restaurant in central London

Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks with guests while visiting a Wagamama restaurant in central London

Rishi Sunak’s budget had other bargains, with a reduction in stamp duty on houses to £ 500,000 and another in the VAT rate – from 20% to 5% on eating out in pubs, cafes and restaurants, accommodation in hotels and B and B’s and caravan parks and attractions such as the cinema, amusement parks and zoos.

Because it is also our patriotic duty to take staycations and go out more. To spend the money we’ve saved in a lockdown in recent months to get our ailing economy going again.

Sunak does not extend the leave scheme after October, so what happens then? He offers £ 2.1 billion in a ‘kick-start scheme’ – paying six months of internships for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit, as well as 30,000 internships in England, earning companies £ 1,000 for each internship.

And he offers employers £ 1,000 for every staff member who is detained at least three months after the leave ends.

According to Rishi, “no one will be left without hope” – in reality, all the vouchers the Treasury prints won’t save the hospitality industry in bad weather, and there is a second spike in Covid-19 infections.

Mr. Sunak helps staff serve food at a Wagamama restaurant in London after announcing that diners can get a 50 percent discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Mr. Sunak helps staff serve food at a Wagamama restaurant in London after announcing that diners can get a 50 percent discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Mr. Sunak helps staff serve food at a Wagamama restaurant in London after announcing that diners can get a 50 percent discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

Even more local closings, and there will be a big hole in the side of this Good Ship Hope, with Rishi’s summer vacation handouts making little or no difference to our fast-sinking economy.

As it is, pubs and restaurants close every day and will not reopen.

According to the CBI, 70% of UK businesses run out of cash, and three-quarters say there is a lack of demand for their products in all sectors, from retail to hospitality and health and beauty (which are still closed).

Regarding these new non-jobs for the unqualified youth – the people who didn’t have qualifications because the school didn’t meet or inspire their needs – I very much doubt that work experience will make much difference.

Making youngsters head of paper clips and stationary supplies or toilet roll changers and shelf stackers is all well and good, but it doesn’t take advantage of the kind of economy that Britain needs to focus on post-pandemic – being a unique place, a home for excellence in every area.

Our genius lies in creativity, inventiveness, the ability to exceed our weight in all arts. At their best, our restaurants are fantastic, our cuisine draws fans from all over the world.

Offering us a lot of vouchers that can be issued in cheap chains like Nando’s (owned by faceless international companies) will hardly solve the problem of supporting small businesses that are our lifeblood.

He has not discussed how to train thousands of young people to learn skills that support these creative industries, from ironwork to carpentry to training to chef.

The government itself is a lousy employer, clogged with thousands of workers out of work, and the NHS as well. There are hundreds of Quangos, from Health England to Natural England, to god knows how many occupational health signs.

For decades, ministers have been trying to reduce the labyrinthine mechanisms that prevent Britain from being agile in doing business, responding quickly in health care and being alert to local needs.

Offering a stamp duty cut only delivers an average savings of £ 4,400 on home purchases, barely enough to convince you to take out a 20-year mortgage if you’re concerned about layoffs.

It is estimated that the cut will bring in about 41,000 additional sales – mainly to the middle class, and certainly not to the young or the first time buyers have nowhere else to afford but their mum and dad’s teenage room.

By closing schools and denying young people decent education for months, Boris Johnson’s inept government has made it even more difficult for them to do something valuable and rewarding with their lives. But at least now they can always get a cheap deal at Nando’s to cheer themselves up.

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