More than half a million meals were claimed in Swindon and Wiltshire under the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, new government statistics show.
Six hundred-and-seventy-three businesses signed up to the scheme, serving up 530,000 discounted meals and claiming £2,688,000 in government grants – an average of £5.07 per meal.
Salisbury was the biggest beneficiary in the county. One-hundred-and twenty-eight businesses served up 107,000 discounted meals, with discounts totalling £493,000.
In South West Wiltshire 90 businesses served up 92,000 discounted meals, with discounts worth £345,000.
And in Chippenham 86 businesses served up 76,000 meals, claiming £385,000 back from the Treasury.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hailed the success of the scheme, which was designed to support the hospitality industry after a challenging few months because of coronavirus.
The scheme is credited with protecting 1.8 million jobs across the UK, with restaurant bookings significantly up on the previous year.
Data from OpenTable shows bookings increased by an average of 52 percent on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the whole of August, compared to the same days in 2019.
The government scheme – part of the government’s £30 billion – Plan for Jobs was so successful that many Swindon and Wiltshire businesses have decided to fund the discount themselves throughout September.
These include the Marlborough restaurant of celebrity chef Rick Stein, which reopened last week – having been shut through the summer – with discounts for customers who had 'missed out' on the government scheme.