More than 700,000 'Eat Out to Help Out' meals eaten in county

Diners in the county bought more than 700,000 discounted meals through the Government’s month-long Eat Out to Help Out scheme, figures reveal.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was used for more than 700,000 meals in the county
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was used for more than 700,000 meals in the county

For three days a week in August, people could buy a half-price meal at outlets that signed up to the scheme and save up to £10 per person.

The initiative, which saw people flock to pubs, restaurants and cafés across the UK, was largely hailed a success by the hospitality sector but has since been criticised over claims it encouraged further spread of the coronavirus.

New data from HM Revenue and Customs shows around 531,000 cut-price meals were claimed at 394 participating businesses in Shropshire, 196,000 at 120 in Telford & Wrekin, and 223,000 at 188 in Powys.

For Shropshire diners saved £5.73 per meal on average, in Telford & Wrekin £5.76, and in Powys £5.88.

Businesses in Shropshire claimed back £3 million from the Government through the scheme at an average of £7,700 per outlet.

In Telford & Wrekin they claimed £1.1 million at an average of £9,400 each, and in Powys £1.3 million was claimed at of £7,000.

There were 4,401 cafés, restaurants and pubs to take part across the West Midlands, and 59,981 across the UK as a whole. However, the HMRC data only covers businesses with fewer than 25 outlets meaning the true figures may be much higher, with many big-name restaurant chains also taking part in the scheme over the summer.

More than 100 million discounted meals were eaten across the UK under the programme to boost the economy by encouraging consumers to dine out after months of being told to stay indoors.

A Treasury spokesman credited Eat Out to Help Out with protecting jobs across the UK and bringing back 400,000 hospitality workers from furlough.

But research from the University of Warwick suggested the scheme may have contributed to between eight per cent and 17 per cent of newly detected Covid-19 clusters – a claim that has been denied by the Treasury.

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