Suffolk got through 1 million Eat Out To Help Out meals and saved more than £5million
More than one million meals were snapped up in Suffolk during the government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme last year, it has been revealed.
And that saved diners across the county a combined total of more than £5.64 million off their bills.
Announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as a way of boosting the hospitality industry after the first lockdown, the scheme ran throughout August and gave diners a discount of up to 50 per cent off food and soft drinks at participating outlets up to a maximum of £10 per person per meal.
It proved a huge success for restaurants, pubs and cafés which saw trade boom after months of forced closures.
The figures from HMRC, released this week, reveal Suffolk Coastal, which includes Felixstowe and Woodbridge, was the most popular place to take advantage of the deal with 135 outlets taking part and 260,000 meals served up at a discount. Each restaurant in the constituency claimed at average of £10,600 - an average saving per meal of £5.
Next was Ipswich where 103 restaurants served up 170,000 meals with an average saving of £4.77.
Waveney came next with 76 outlets serving 160,000 meals at an average of £4.67.
Across England, more than 50,500 restaurants took part, serving up over 90 million meals and saving diners more than half a billion pounds. It cost the taxpayers an estimated £849m.
It came under fire, though, when the second wave of the pandemic arrived during the autumn with many suggesting it helped spread the virus.
However, the Treasury says research, commissioned by The Sun, proves it not to be the case and that areas in the country with the highest take-up had low infection rates between August and October.
A spokesman said: "These figures confirm that take-up of Eat Out to Help Out does not correlate with incidence of Covid regionally – and indeed where it does the relationship is negative.”
Elsewhere in Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds saw 110 outlets take part and 140,000 served at a discount; South Suffolk 94 outlets and 123,000 meals; while West Suffolk, home to Newmarket, Mildenhall and Haverhill, saw 74 participating hospitality providers serve up 98,000 meals.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich had 53 outlets take part in the scheme, which in total served up 90,000 meals.
The latest figures account for restaurants with less than 25 outlets nationwide - which accounted for 99 per cent of all claims under the scheme.
In total, 84.3 per cent of participating outlets were located in England, eight per cent in Scotland, 4.5 per cent in Wales and three per cent in Northern Ireland.