WEST Oxfordshire’s hospitality sector is celebrating the success of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, after it was revealed more than 80,000 meals were claimed in the district.

The scheme gave customers a discount on dining, with businesses able to claim that money back from the Government.

Running throughout August from Monday to Wednesday, the programme was designed to build the sector back up, as diners got a 50 per cent discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

In West Oxfordshire, 134 establishments signed up for the scheme, while data from OpenTable shows bookings increased by an average of 52 per cent, compared to 2019.

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The Blue Boar pub and restaurant in Witney has extended the scheme to punters following its success.

Deputy general manager Emily Maw-Hobday said: “We felt like a lot of people put a lot of effort into coming out and supporting us so we’ve extended it to say thank you to them.

“The scheme has been really good for us and I know lots of businesses have been struggling but due to Eat Out, we’ve not had to make any cuts or cut hours.

“Customers are obviously very happy with the extension, the only difference being they require a voucher now so takes a little longer to sort out but it’s still as it was, going from Monday to Wednesday, using the same terms.”

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Meanwhile, fellow Market Square venue Beekeepers has extended the scheme to the first two weeks of September, with the hope it will run throughout the rest of the month.

The pub told this paper that the scheme had been ‘really good for business’ and made people get out and support the hospitality sector.

Independent cafe Delice also made use of the initiative, after only reopening days before it went live.

Oxford Mail:

Daniela Cazan, from the cafe, said: “It was really great, we noticed a lot of locals were doing it too.

“Customers were surprised at how cheap their bills came to and for us, it was a great way to get open again.

“Some restaurants and cafes have extended it, but so far we haven’t.”

Witney MP Robert Courts said: “I am absolutely thrilled at the level of support local people in West Oxfordshire have provided to our brilliant restaurants and hospitality businesses.

“Eat Out to Help Out was always about far more than just giving people money off their meals, it was about protecting jobs which are reliant on businesses which have really struggled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have no doubt that there are businesses in West Oxfordshire today which, without this brilliant scheme, may not have made it through the summer. I hope local people will continue to support them in the months ahead.”

Oxford Mail:

The Government will continue to support the hospitality industry with a temporary discount to VAT, from 20 per cent to five per cent, until January 12, 2021.

In total, more than 100 million meals were claimed across the UK, with 84,700 venues signing up.

The scheme is credited with protecting 1.8 million jobs across the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said figures showed the scheme was a success.