A total of nearly £850 million was claimed on the Government's landmark Eat Out to Help Out scheme, HMRC has revealed.
The initiative, launched in an attempt to boost hospitality following months of lockdown, offered customers a 50% discount up to £10 on meals and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August .
The tax authority published final statistics on the scheme on Wednesday.
The report showed that more than 160 million meals were sold via the initiative in the month, with the average discount per meal claimed at £5.24.
By September, more than 52,000 businesses had registered for the scheme, and the HMRC figures suggest it got more popular as the month went on.
Around 26.5 million meals were claimed through the scheme in its first week, steadily rising to 44.5 million in the final full week.
HMRC said the majority of claims - 55% - were made by restaurants, with pubs accounting for 28% of meals.
Around 93% of claims were made by small businesses with just one outlet, although these represent just over half of the total value of claims as chains received larger amounts from the Government.
A total of 172 large businesses - such as McDonald’s and Pizza Express, represented 18,134 outlets which made claims during the programme, HMRC said.