More than 10 million meals bought under 'Eat Out To Help Out' scheme last week

Scheme entitles diners to up to £10 off food and soft drink per person on Mondays to Wednesdays in August

Restaurants have reported some of their busiest days of trading since the scheme began
Restaurants have reported some of their busiest days of trading since the scheme began Credit: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Over 10 million meals were eaten under Rishi Sunak's discount dining scheme for restaurants and pubs last week, official figures showed.

Data released by HM Revenue and Customs on Tuesday revealed that 10.5 million "covers", or individual meals, were claimed for under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme by August 9. 

The initiative entitles diners to up to £10 off food and soft drink per person on Mondays to Wednesdays throughout August.

Restaurants have reported some of their busiest days of trading, with some saying they have been forced to turn people away.

Mr Sunak, the Chancellor, said: "Britons are eating out to help out in big numbers. And they aren't just getting a great deal – they're supporting the almost two million people employed in this sector. These amazing figures show that our plan for jobs is delivering."

Restaurants hailed the success of the scheme (see video above), saying it had brought in new patrons for the first time.

Charlotte Hay, of the Pig and Whistle at Healing Manor, Lincolnshire, said: "We had our busiest day on record on Monday since taking on the business two years ago, and we are expecting covers to be similar throughout the rest of the month." 

She said next week was almost full already and that 80 per cent of those taking advantage of the scheme were new customers, adding: "Hopefully we will see many returning as we emerge out of August and the scheme is a distant memory."

Meanwhile, diners seem to be shifting weekend activities to earlier in the week in order to take advantage of the scheme.

Filippo Gallenzi, the owner of Pastificio Al Dente, in London, said: "We've noticed a lot of couples dating on Monday to Wednesday throughout the day. Big groups of friends are mainly booking on a Wednesday, although Friday is still a very busy day for group bookings." 

The "Eat Out To Help Out" scheme gives diners 50 per cent off their bill up to a maximum of £10 and does not apply to alcoholic drinks. In total 83,068 venues have signed up.