Over 100 million meals have been claimed under the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, according to the latest Treasury figures.

Following the closure of the initiative – which came to an end on Monday (31 August) – the chancellor has thanked diners for helping to protect 1.8 million jobs in hospitality and drive the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

“Excelling expectations,” by midnight on 31 August 84,700 businesses had signed up to the scheme, making 130,000 claims worth £522m.

Citing data from restaurant booking platform OpenTable, the Treasury revealed that bookings increased by an average of 53% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August, compared to the same days in 2019.

The figures mark a significant uplift on July bookings, which were down 54% on average year-on-year from Mondays to Wednesdays.

On 31 August – the final day of the scheme – bookings were up 216% compared to the same day last year.

Since its launch, there has been un upward trend in the scheme’s popularity.

According to the Treasury, 10.5 million meals were claimed in the first week compared to 64 million in the third, and it has since continued to boost demand with a 2% rise in restaurant bookings on 1 September compared to the same day last year.

The scheme was used across the entire UK, with over 6 million meals claimed in Scotland, over 2 million in both Wales and Northern Ireland and over 51 million in England by 27 August.

“From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before,” said chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“Today’s figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.

“The scheme is just one part of our Plan for Jobs and we will continue to protect, support and create jobs to ensure we come back stronger as a nation.”

“The Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been a great success for hospitality,” added UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls. “Our members have reported very strong bookings throughout August at a time when the sector really needed a boost.

“It has helped provide a lift in consumer confidence which is going to be key for hospitality businesses as they look to reopen and help rebuild the economy. The scheme has provided a timely boost in trade which will have helped many businesses safeguard jobs all around the UK.”