SUSSEX food lovers certainly got their money’s worth from the Eat Out To Help Out campaign last month.

Almost £10 million worth of free food was claimed by diners across the county as more than 2,000 venues signed up to the scheme.

The campaign offered customers the chance to halve their bills at many of their favourite restaurants, pubs, bars and more, with the businesses able to claim the savings back from HM Revenue and Customers.

This was intended to boost the hospitality industry after trade was devastated by the coronavirus crisis – and it worked.

But which part of Sussex, divided by Parliamentary constituency, was the biggest benefactor of Eat Out To Help Out?

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, figures released by the government revealed that Brighton Pavilion had claimed the greatest number of discounts in the county.

City centre connoisseurs were responsible for almost 15 per cent of the savings claimed in Sussex, a whopping £1,411,000 of the county’s £9,512,000 total.

And is it any wonder when they had the greatest choice, with 318 venues signing up to the scheme in the area?

This was, again, the highest of any constituency in Sussex.

The area also took the title of most meals claimed with residents and visitors alike benefiting from 228,000 half-price meals.

Chichester followed in a fairly distant second, with 171,000 discounted meals representing £958,000 worth of savings claimed from its 152 participating sites.

But Brighton Pavilion diners could not take the title of savviest savers.

That accolade instead went to Hove and its 127 registered dining venues.

The average customer using the Eat Out To Help Out scheme in the area saved £6.42 with their meal, to Brighton Pavilion’s £6.19.

Worthing West also capitalised on the discount saving an average of £6.16 per meal – far higher than the average discount of £5.46 across Sussex.

Brighton Kemptown, meanwhile, had 82 sites signed up to the scheme, with 58,000 meals claimed with an average discount of £5.44 per meal and HM Revenue and Customs splashing out £317,000 as a result.

The Eat Out To Help Out scheme began on August 3 and ran until the final day of the month.

Customers were entitled to a 50 per cent discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks on orders of up to £10 per customer when they sat down at participating sites.

The deal was available every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, could be used alongside existing deals and there was no limit on the amount of times it could be taken advantage of.

And take advantage was exactly what Sussex did, with 1,716,000 discounted meals claimed in less than a month.

Some sites have chosen to continue the scheme, or a variation of this, throughout September without the government’s financial backing as a result of its immense success in encouraging customers back to local businesses.

l See page 19 for details of these venues