A total of 530,000 meals were claimed in Swindon and Wiltshire under the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, new statistics show.
More than 100 million meals were claimed across the UK under the scheme, which ran throughout August.
A total of 84,700 eateries signed up, including 673 in Swindon and Wiltshire and 6,671 across the South West.
Nearly £2.7million was claimed in discounts across the county.
The Salisbury constituency topped the county table in restaurants registered (128), meals claimed (107,000) and discount claimed (£493,000). South West Wiltshire (92,000) and Chippenham (76,000) were the next biggest beneficiaries in terms of meals claimed.
On average, each registered restaurant in the county claimed 788 discounted meals – 61 a day for the 13 eligible days.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hailed the success of the scheme, which was designed to support the hospitality industry – so crucial in Swindon, Wiltshire and the wider South West – after a challenging few months because of coronavirus.
The scheme is credited with protecting 1.8 million jobs across the country, with restaurant bookings significantly up on the previous year.
Data from OpenTable shows bookings increased by an average of 52% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the whole of August, compared to the same days in 2019.
Eat Out to Help Out was just one part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, an ambitious £30billion strategy to create, protect and support jobs as the country bounces back from coronavirus.
The government will continue to support the hospitality industry with a temporary discount to VAT, from 20% to 5%, until 12 January 2021.
The Chancellor said: “From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before.
“Today’s figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success.
“I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.
“The scheme is just one part of our Plan for Jobs and we will continue to protect, support and create jobs to ensure we come back stronger as a nation.”