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Diners in Shropshire and Mid Wales saved millions with Eat Out To Help Out scheme

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Business | Published:

Shropshire and Mid Wales diners ate more than half a million meals under the government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme last month – saving more then £3 million.

People eating on tables placed outside a restautant in Chinatown in Soho, London, as the government initiative Eat Out to Help Out comes to an end. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday August 31, 2020. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire.

Official government figures show that 761 restaurants took part in the scheme, claiming £3,082,000 off food and drink at an average discount of £5.79 a meal.

The promotion gave up to 50 per cent off in participating eateries, with a maximum discount of £10 per person, and ran Monday to Wednesday throughout August.

It was unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as a way of supporting the hospitality industry – which had been effectively closed down during lockdown – and encouraging people to spend money and boost their local economy.

Across Shropshire's five parliamentary constituencies a total of £2.3 million of discount was handed out.

Shrewsbury & Atcham led the way with £785,000 being saved over 131,000 meals at the 141 establishments taking part in the scheme.

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North Shropshire saw £494,000 saved across 101,000 meals, while 80,000 Ludlow meals saved diners £466,000.

In Telford and The Wrekin people saved £235,000 and £364,000 respectively. The savings were made on 42,000 meals in Telford and 60,000 in The Wrekin.

Mid Wales diners also made the most of the scheme saving nearly three quarters of a million pounds on eating out.

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In Montgomeryshire £250,000 was saved on 43,000 meals, while £488,000 was saved in Brecon & Radnorshire on 77,000 meals.

The figures underline how successful the scheme has been, with diners taking advantage of the discounts, which ended at the end of last month.

It has proved so popular that some restaurants have announced plans to continue a variety of discount schemes, in an effort to keep the customers coming through the doors.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne said: "Eat Out to Help Out was always about far more than just giving people money off their meals – it was about protecting jobs which are reliant on businesses which have really struggled through coronavirus.

“I have no doubt that there are businesses in South Shropshire today which, without this brilliant scheme, may not have made it through the summer. I hope local people will continue to support them in the months ahead.”

Restaurants get their fill as diners tuck into cheap food

The scale of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme has been revealed with county diners tucking in to more than £2 million worth of discount in under a month.

The government initiative was designed to kickstart a hospitality industry which had been battered by months of lockdown.

Many restaurants and cafes had been forced into a quick shift of business plan during the shut-down, providing takeaway or home delivery to keep operating.

With lockdown eased Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the scheme which offered diners 50 per cent discount on food or drinks, up to £10 per diner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

It has now been confirmed that across Shropshire and Mid Wales more than half a million claims were made under the scheme, with Shrewsbury & Atcham topping the local table with 131,000 claims worth £785,000, according to government figures.

Busiest

The data shows that across Shropshire and Mid Wales discounts worth £3 million were enjoyed by diners between August 3 and 27.

Family-run CSONS, which has restaurants in Shrewsbury and Ludlow, was one of those taking part in the scheme.

Reuben Crouch, who co-owns the business with his three brothers and his father, said the scheme had helped contribute to what has been their busiest August ever.

He said that the combination of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and a boost in tourists who have been opting for British holidays over international trips, had been a major part of the upturn.

It comes after their restaurants had shifted focus during lockdown to provide takeaways and meal kits for people to make at home.

It is a plan they have cemented so it is ready to go in case of a second lockdown.

Reuben said: “There was a huge uptake on the eat out scheme.

Surprised

“On the days it was on, on average we probably did about about 40 per cent more than we would at this time of year.”

CSONS opened their Shrewsbury restaurant for the duration of the deal, but were only able to open in Ludlow on the Monday of the second to last week – due to the time taken to reorganise the premises for covid-safe dining.

Reuben said they had anticipated it being tough as hospitality reopened after lockdown, but that they had been pleasantly surprised at the success.

He added that the amount of people wanting to get away for a holiday or tourist trip post-lockdown was also a significant part in the recent success.

He said: “I am pretty sure that the biggest factor is people staycationing.

“Just chatting to customers there are lots that we have not seen before.”

He added: “We lucky that we have a Shrewsbury and Ludlow site, and they are both very popular tourist places, that is driving business.”

The Sweeney Hall Hotel near Oswestry also said it had been blown away by the support for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, so much so that it has launched its own special two or three course deal to encourage diners to continue to eat out.

Normality

Manager Christian Kynaston-Evans said: “Each day of the scheme we had between 200-250 covers between lunch and the evening and we had great feedback about how we were operating.

“People said it was nice to be back to some kind of normality and we are still busy now.”

He said the hotel’s annual gin fest also went ahead in a slightly different, socially distanced format attracting about 280 people in two sessions. Ludlow MP Philip Dunne said the scheme had provided vital protection for an industry which had struggled throughout lockdown.

Mr Dunne said: “I am very pleased at the level of support local people in South Shropshire have provided to our brilliant restaurants and hospitality businesses.

“Eat Out to Help Out was always about far more than just giving people money off their meals – it was about protecting jobs which are reliant on businesses which have really struggled through coronavirus.

“I have no doubt that there are businesses in South Shropshire today which, without this brilliant scheme, may not have made it through the summer.

“And I hope that local people will continue to support them in the months ahead,” he added.

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