global economy

UK inflation rises as virus meal scheme ends

Agence France-Presse
UK inflation rises as virus meal scheme ends

A customer sits with his drink inside the Goat Major pub in Cardiff, Wales, on October 20, 2020. - Wales announced "firebreak" confinement measures for two weeks, ordering the territory's three million residents to stay at home except for very limited purposes such as exercise or work, and banning people from mixing indoors or outdoors. Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford said the move to the new rules, which will come into force at 6pm (1700 GMT) on Friday, was a "difficult decision". (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)


The end of the UK's Eat Out to Help Out scheme contributes to the increase in inflation in September 2020

British inflation rose to 0.5% in September, official data showed on Wednesday, October 21, as the United Kingdom government ended a meals discount scheme boosting the restaurant sector battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual inflation rate, as measured by the UK’s Consumer Prices Index, increased from a near 5-year low of 0.2% in August.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that along with transport costs, “restaurant and cafe prices, following the end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, made the largest upward contributions” to inflation in September.

The Eat Out to Help Out incentive in August saw the UK government subsidizing meals eaten also in pubs.

Britons enjoyed more than 100 million meals under the discount scheme, according to recent data.

Some analysts have argued that the measure may have fueled cases of the coronavirus.

Britain has suffered Europe’s worst death toll from COVID-19, with nearly 44,000 deaths, while the pandemic has caused the country’s deepest recession on record.

The extent of the financial cost was updated in separate official data on Wednesday revealing that UK national debt last month hit a record £2.06 trillion ($2.65 trillion, 2.23 trillion euros).

That pushed state borrowing up to 103.5% of Britain’s annual gross domestic product, the ONS said.

The government borrowed £36.1 billion in September – £28.4 billion more than one year earlier.

With borrowing ballooning amid continued virus uncertainty, the UK Treasury on Wednesday said it was scrapping a multi-year spending review, replacing it with a one-year plan that will be outlined in November.

“In the current environment it’s essential that we provide certainty,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

“So we’ll be doing that for departments and all of the nations of the United Kingdom by setting budgets for next year,” he said, adding that long-term investments in the state-run health service, schools, and infrastructure projects would remain. –

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