Eat Out – Help Out Campaign – WTF?

Right, the diplomacy is now out the window! How dare the government tell us one minute we need to lose weight and get healthy and their way of helping with this is to obscure the marketing to stop us getting tempted…and in the next breath shout ‘Half price McDonalds for everyone!’

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme – get 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks (up to a maximum of £10 discount per person) every Mon-Wed for August. As many times as you like.

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In their introduction of the governments new ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ policy they state:

Lots of people who are overweight or living with obesity want to lose weight but find it hard. Many people have tried to lose weight but struggle in the face of endless prompts to eat – on TV and on the high street. In supermarkets, special offers and promotions tempt us to buy foods that are not on the shopping list but are hard to resist.

In chapter two they go on to announce they will be:

legislating to end the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) by restricting volume promotions such as buy one get one free

What is half price fast food if it’s not a promotion?!

In chapters 3 and 4 they provide us with these gems:

The campaign aims to reach millions of people who need to lose weight, encouraging them to make behaviour changes to eat better.

That’s why when it comes to food and drink, we want to ensure everyone has the right information, that they are offered a fair deal and that they are not unduly influenced to purchase less healthy foods and drinks.

Put simply, we want the healthy option to be an easier option for everyone.

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Chapter 5 shines some light on where the inspiration for the Eat Out to Help Out Policy no doubt came from:

Promotions like buy one get one free (BOGOF) which encourage us to buy more to get the deal appear to be mechanisms to help shoppers save money, however data shows that they actually increase the amount we spend by almost 20% by encouraging people to buy more than they need or intended to buy in the first place. These are not ‘good deals’ for our wallet or our health.

‘These are not good deals for our wallet or our health’…yet here we are being offered it country wide.

To step back briefly to consider this scheme more generally, rolling it out for independent businesses that need the financial help is a great idea. It’ll hopefully stop many small business owners going out of business and having to lay off employees which we absolutely love and support!

But, large profit businesses perhaps should be included on a qualification only method – only if they fit a healthy criteria?

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If they wouldn’t qualify for pre-water shed advertising, then perhaps they shouldn’t fit the criteria for being a good option to be pushed onto people at a discount? We’re looking at you McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, KFC…

Smaller cafes would get more support and custom if people weren’t drawn towards the big companies who can already afford to price things competitively cheaper and so now at half price it’s become dirt cheap…

To look at some numbers to justify this rage typed frenzy, here are some figures for two of the worst offenders, McDonalds and Starbucks:

  • Profits in 2017 for the UK based McDonald’s increased 19% to £341 million. Total turnover stood at £1.6 billion, which was up £19 million from 2016, and although some restaurants (using the term loosely here…) are franchises, roughly £1.1 billion of this was from those directly owned by McDonalds.

Also interesting to note is the highest-paid director was paid £783,000, not bad really, so I reckon they probably could afford to look after their staff over the lockdown period without needing to claim back on the government Eat out to Help out scheme. And let’s not forget they were hauled up in 2015 for not paying any UK taxes for the past 6 years…

  • Similarly, in UK Starbucks, after being shown to only pay £8 million in tax over 14 years after a £3 BILLION profit, they still only paid 2.8% tax (should have been 19%) which meant paying only £4.5 million on a £162 million profit for the year in 2018.

I think it’s safe to say the UK based outlets of these global businesses can go the month of August without help from our tax money… the same cannot be said for our smaller, local businesses.

And I get it, I do, I’d also be tempted normally to get a £6 fancy hot drink for half price if I could, but with everything going on right now, it’s definitely worth pausing to think of the benefits of walking round the corner to an independent business and providing them with custom instead.

(Restoring faith in billionaire company owners though is UK owned Home Bargains, who rejected furlough, paid full salary to isolating staff and a 10% increase and two week bonus to working staff – they may not be a restaurant, but you know who a good choice to buy your tins of beans from now is ?.)

To get on back on track with how this lines up (or doesn’t) with the tackling obesity strategy though, they also state in the policy:

And we owe it to the NHS to move towards a healthier weight. Obesity puts pressure on our health service. It is estimated that overweight and obesity related conditions across the UK are costing the NHS £6.1 billion each year. Latest figures show there were nearly 900,000 obesity related hospital admissions in 2018 to 2019. Tackling obesity would reduce pressure on doctors and nurses in the NHS, and free up their time to treat other sick and vulnerable patients. If all people who are overweight or living with obesity in the population lost just 2.5kg (one-third of a stone), it could save the NHS £105 million over the next 5 years. Going into this winter, you can play your part to protect the NHS and save lives.

How about you spend our tax money on the NHS and not dish it out to global 7 figure companies? Just a thought!

I’m tempted to contact Boris for compensation for the damage this rage has caused me to inflict on my keyboard typing this.

How to end on a positive? If you go out for food/drinks this sunny week Eat Out and Help Out Local Business✌️

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