A former Tory minister, with a net worth of millions, has been criticised for a tweet which saw him celebrating using taxpayers’ money to get a £50 discount on his lunch.
Former health minister Jeremy Hunt posted photos of him having lunch at a local pub in to promote the chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.
In a bid to boost spending in Britain’s hospitality sector, the Treasury launched a new voucher programme offering people £10 off a meal eaten inside a restaurant between Monday and Wednesday.
The initiative is trying to encourage foodies to return to their favourite restaurants and help local businesses who have been struggling during the lockdown.
But Hunt’s latest PR stunt, which shows him basking in the sun after enjoying a meal at the lavish White Horse pub in Hascombe which cost the public £56 after the discount for five people had been deducted, has gone down spectacularly bad on Twitter after users were reminded his net worth is £14 million.
They quickly pointed to those in society that desperately need more financial support from taxpayers’ money.
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham blasted the move: ‘Are we really saying we’re all comfortable with giving the highest-paid £50 off their restaurant bills but not giving the lowest-paid any access to statutory sick pay nor help to self-isolate?
‘Don’t know about you but I’m not.’
Madeleina Kay wrote: ‘This is exceptionally insensitive given the numbers of families forced to use food banks after a decade of Austerity… Perhaps not exceptional, but what you expect from a Tory!’
RD Hale explained that he was ‘so broke’ that his diet during lockdown has mostly consisted of tinned food and cereals. ‘But at least the millionaire Tories are getting 50% off at their favourite restaurants,’ he lamented.
Academic David K Smith accused Hunt of double standards. ‘That’s £50 of taxpayers money splashed on a nice meal in a fancy pub by people who could afford the full bill.
‘Under 25s on Universal Credit have to live for a whole week on just £80 – the reason given for such meanness being ‘taxpayers shouldn’t support lavish lifestyles’.’
Meryl O’Rourke’s outrage was more palpable: ‘Jeremy Hunt is a millionaire. People are unemployed, living hand to mouth, depending on food packages – and a millionaire goes to an independent business to boast he got a £50 discount – paid back to the pub from our taxes.’
‘Here’s a Tory MP boasting about how much they can spend and save on a meal out when there are 4 million kids in poverty. Tory values,’ Stephen Brown, a Labour supporter, wrote.
Translator @jclanoe added: ‘So I paid for your meal (and your 4 mates) when my earnings since march have been zero? I see. No help whatsoever from gov..’
Dan Sohege intervened with a quasi-defence of Hunt’s actions: ‘Not to be ‘that guy’, but #EatOutToHelpOut may help struggling businesses and means testing it would be both costly and time consuming. That doesn’t make Hunt boasting about getting £50 knocked off less galling when the government made such a fuss about free meals for kids.’