THE UK Government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has stirred up sanctimony and disapproval with a hefty side order of muddled thinking. For our cafes and restaurants – the hospitality sector – the scheme is an unalloyed blessing. Hospitality is massive. It’s worth £20 billion a year to the UK economy. It employs hundreds of thousands of people: chefs, front of house staff, cleaners, kitchen porters.

Behind them sit all the livelihoods that provision and service them: farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers, ingredient suppliers, florists, accountants, restaurant fitters, equipment maintenance companies, designers, laundries, the list goes on. Trade body UK

Hospitality says that over 75 percent of hospitality businesses are at risk of insolvency in the next year. This industry needs all the help it can get.

You’d think that a month-long opportunity to get £10 a head off food and drink when you eat out on the quieter days of the week would be welcomed by most people. Yet the scheme has generated a whingeing onslaught of criticism. Search #EatOutToHelpOut in social media and you’ll see various tortuous threads of dyspeptic bile, would-be smart ass put-downs, and assorted arguments against the scheme that a logician would dismantle in seconds. When has the prospect of getting a bargain ever riled people so much?

Let’s start by setting aside those who remain fearful of eating out, even of going out, full stop. If you decide that you must put yourself under house arrest for the duration until the cavalry come riding to the rescue, that is your prerogative. But many more of us, while cautious, refuse to walk in fear, and want to get on with living our lives.

No, it’s not primarily the risk discussion that drives the attack, but politics. Public debate is increasingly tribal. We choose our stance on any particular issue according to which camp we’re in, rather than on the merits of the argument. So because this is a Tory scheme, many of us who aren’t Tory voters feel obliged to oppose it. Critical thinking goes out the window. If Boris Johnson is for it then we’re against it, end of. Expressing such knee-jerk sentiment would make us look like sheep though. Let’s find some pseudo-arguments instead.

Poor people can’t afford to eat out, we’re told, ergo, we should be spending public money on food banks and benefits, not subsidised nosh-ups for Rishi Sunak and his mates. This argument plays well with those who see hospitality as a self-indulgent, non-essential frippery for the well-to-do.

Truth is that many who live in poverty have sparse cooking facilities, overpriced fuel, no well-stocked larder to fall back on, no dining table. They often eat more food prepared outside the home than the thrifty middle classes. The Eat Out To Help Out applies to all levels of restaurants and cafes, however basic. Morrisons supermarket cafés are currently serving a full cooked breakfast for £1.62 and fish and chips for £2.25, thanks to this scheme. A lot of hard-up people will be glad to take advantage of such deals.

If you encourage people to eat out you’re encouraging them to binge on fast food, some say. Look, I’d prefer that chains like KFC, McDonald's, and Subway didn’t exist, but you’re not obliged to eat in them. Lots of independent establishments that serve wholesome, health-sustaining food are taking part. You can find participating restaurants near you by typing your postcode into the website Lumping all eating out under a generic “junk food” banner is outrageously unfair.

Ah, but, flaying around to justify antipathy to the scheme, we’re informed that eating out is non-essential. Resources should be channelled into important things, like hospitals. Strictly speaking, eating out is unnecessary, but then so are visits to libraries, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, concerts, festivals. A philistine life where culture is dismissed in a joyless, proto-authoritarian manner, one that reduces human existence to life and death necessity? You’re welcome to it.

Meanwhile, I’ve eaten 6 restaurant meals under the scheme so far and patronised cafés with the same frequency. I’ve ‘saved’ around £75 to date. It makes me happy to think that my spending might help them keep going.