Revealed: Eat Out to Help Out diners save £9.3m in Suffolk and north Essex
- Credit: HM TREASURY
Diners across Suffolk and north Essex saved more than £9million in discounts from the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme last August, it has emerged.
HMRC released data on how much cash was paid out to eateries for each local authority in the UK, as well as the number of meals served.
The 235 restaurants taking part in the scheme in East Suffolk claimed an overall £2.471m - the highest figure in the county.
West Suffolk was second on the list after 149 businesses offered discounts totalling £1.133m.
Ipswich's 109 restaurants claimed £884,000 between them, while Babergh's 91 establishments took £742,000.
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Mid Suffolk claimed the least in the county as 61 eateries took £411,000.
Over the border in north Essex, 169 restaurants in Colchester claimed £1.774m in the scheme - the third-highest figure in the county behind Southend-on-Sea and Chelmsford.
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Tendring's 119 restaurants claimed £1.067m, while Braintree's 100 businesses shared £852,000.
In total, Suffolk claimed £5.641m while £3.693m was handed out across north Essex.
The overall £9.334m claimed in the region was shared between 1,033 restaurants serving 1,736,000 meals.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last summer as a means of supporting the country's hospitality industry, which has been forced to close for large parts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The offer entitled diners to a 50% discount on eat-in food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum of £10 each on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
Reports have said the overall cost of the scheme cost taxpayers a total of £849m.
The initiative was hailed as a welcome boost for hospitality firms across the region - with Adnams director Nick Attfield describing it as a "big success" that was "enormously enjoyed by all of our customers".
However, there have been fears raised that its introduction may have inadvertently led to an increase of Covid-19 infections in the autumn.
According to the University of Warwick, the number of new clusters of infections began to rise in the first week of September - with estimates between 8% and 17% were linked to the scheme.