The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on us all this year. But the effects of Covid-19 for businesses have not been the same across all sectors of the economy.

Some industries have thrived under the adverse conditions. With millions of people confined to their homes, supermarkets – particularly home deliveries - experienced their fastest growth on record. But for the majority of sectors, it has been much harder going – especially in the hospitality industry.

The Chancellor recognised early that with pubs and restaurants ordered closed, the government’s response would need to be focussed on supporting hospitality businesses. That is why we waived business rates for them for the whole of 2020-21 as well as distributing £25,000 grants for those with a rateable value below £51,000. This was on top of broader support given to all companies through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Bounce Back Loans which I helped develop in the Treasury.

Now as we are on our journey towards fully reopening the economy, the government has taken further steps this week to encourage people to support pubs and restaurants. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme launched on Monday, provides all diners eating out with 50% off their bill (up to a maximum of £10 per person) for all food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased, Monday to Wednesday, throughout the whole of August.

As a Treasury minister, I had the job early Monday morning of being interviewed by regional radio stations across the country, promoting the scheme and tackling any questions people had regarding it. A frequent question was why we were taking this step at the same time as launching a push to encourage cycling and curbing obesity?

But the promotion we are running to get people back into pubs and restaurants is not an instruction to eat unhealthily. We have some fantastic restaurants across South Wiltshire serving a very wide range of food. There is increasing awareness among restaurateurs of the importance that diners place on having healthy options on their menus as well as more indulgent choices!

I have already made good use of the promotion myself on Monday lunchtime and as I am not going abroad this summer, I am sure I will be making further use of the scheme over the coming weeks. Let’s make this an August to remember for our restaurants and pubs.