Almost 64m meals have been bought under Rishi Sunak's “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme as diners scramble for a discount before it ends later this month.
The Chancellor's project has been wildly popular since it launched at the start of August, giving customers up to £10 off meals out from Monday to Wednesday.
But the Telegraph understands that there is zero appetite within the Treasury to continue it into September - despite calls from industry bosses to have the scheme extended.
Mr Sunak said: “I am urging everyone, where they can, to continue to safely enjoy a meal while the scheme remains open.”
A spokesman for the Treasury added: “Part of this popularity is precisely because it is a time-limited scheme – this reminds and encourages people to safely return to going out.”
Pub and restaurant bosses have urged ministers to extend Eat Out to Help Out amid fears that its expiry and the tapering off of the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme could spark a wave of bankruptcies.
The scheme hands diners a 50pc discount on food and soft drinks up to a maximum of £10 per head, with the Government picking up the tab.
Despite initial scepticism from industry leaders who viewed it as a gimmick, it has taken off with some 10.5m meals claimed in the first week, growing to 35m in the second.
David Page, a restaurateur credited with masterminding the expansion of Pizza Express in the Nineties who now runs London-focused chain Franco Manca, said the policy had sparked unprecedented levels of demand. He said: “I’ve been in restaurants for 40 years and never seen anything like it.
“Eat Out to Help Out immediately increased our restaurant customer numbers by over 50pc, thus enabling us to get all our staff back to work.
"In fact, we are now creating new jobs by hiring and training more people as fast as we can.”
Kate Nicholls, boss of trade body UKHospitality, said last week that the stand-out success of the scheme shows it should continue for another month”.
A spokesman for the Treasury said: “With over 64 million meals served up under this scheme in the first three weeks, it is clear Britain is backing the hospitality sector by eating out to help out."