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Coupons & Offers

Zoutons Celebrates Women: Leadership and Inclusivity

If the foundation of an organization is based on equal representation and inclusive workforce then surely it reflects on its relentless success. It's an universally acknowledged fact that there are countless reasons to celebrate women in the workplace. The organizations that hire more women witness higher productivity and team proximity.

Their inspiring ability to multitask leads to better results in the longer run. That's exactly why, the leading coupons and deals aggregator website- Zoutons, strongly believes in giving the space and opportunity that women deserve. The company emphasizes on diversity-hiring as it has more than 60% women employees in the workforce.

The Gurugram-based organization also believes that, In order to create an ideal and empowered workplace it's really important to take steps towards creating more opportunities along with rearranging the patriarchal power structure of the organization. Therefore, 70% of managerial positions are helmed by head-strong and supremely talented women. The diverse and inclusive team at Zoutons strives hard to alleviate the shopping experience for its customers by facilitating them with updated coupon codes and offers.

Starting from coupon creation to blog writing, almost every department of this coupon aggregator is growing under the exponential leadership of women. Not just that, Zoutons goes beyond the generalities of representation and focuses on real issues like equal opportunities as well as opportunities for its female-employees. The aggregator website also makes sure that the female employees working in the organization move higher up in the company hierarchy and thrive with promising opportunities and bigger hikes.

"What do women in the corporate world want from their jobs? Not to be judged and to get equal opportunities. We all have one thing in common, we might not have the same talent but we all have the same potential to develop them.

Zoutons is one of the few organisations where women are given equal opportunity to demonstrate their ability; as a result, prominent women in Zoutons are referred to as leaders rather than women leaders." says the content manager Deepali Meena at Zoutons Zoutons also strives and works elaborately to make the workplace safer and more effective for women. The company organizes special workshops to address the day to day issues of the employees, formulates crucial policies which are specially designed for its female employees.

Zoutons is committed to a better workplace environment so that women in the organization feel empowered and secure. As a part of the organizational ethics, employees at Zoutons have the company's meticulous support to create a collaborative and friendly atmosphere in the workplace. The  celebration of women in the workplace also entails the flexibility a company has to offer to its employees.

Zoutons surely recognizes such needs and works around it. As a part of the policy, the company offers maternity leaves to its employees and extends all the extra support in need. Even during the ongoing pandemic Zoutons is committed to protecting the lives of its employees by letting most of their employees work from home.

The pioneering coupon and deal aggregator's recent growth story is a perfect example to further propagate the significance of a better representation of women and inclusiveness in an organization. As per reports, despite the raging pandemic, Zoutons had witnessed a whopping 1.4 million user traffic in November 2020. Not just that, the company now has more than 10 lakh registered customers to cater to.

Along with it the company is seeing more than 600,000 new customers every month. As Zoutons is collaborating with more and more partner merchants, Zoutons is everyday inching towards becoming the number one coupon aggregator website that aims to help customers save money as well as time while shopping. Zoutons is continually sprawling its roots not just in India but also across the US and UAE markets as it aims to smoothen the shopping experience of the customers from all walks of life buying anything under the sun.

While moving forward with its global vision, Zoutons work tirelessly towards customer queries by giving them the best solutions. It is one of the reasons that Zoutons is hiring more and more women in higher positions to widen its presence in global markets. With its 1000+ categories and more than 400 popular partner merchants, customers can get their hands on the latest Lenovo coupons along with offers and promo codes for AmazonFlipkartHostingerNikeMyntra, and many more, Zoutons is committed to using the maximum potential of its female employees to build an enormous and lasting brand in the growing space of affiliate marketing.

The entire team works diligently around the clock under the meticulous supervision of extremely supportive team leaders who work incessantly to make sure that customers across the globe get maximum benefits from the working coupons and deals across popular brands and categories like footwear, clothing, food, services, and more.

The same is responsible for delivering updated coupons and offers to its customers.

Apart from that, shoppers get access to long elaborated blogs which help the users to maximize their savings like never before.

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Coupons & Offers

Should I book the new three-hour rapid PCR test at Heathrow? Which provider should I choose?

Choosing a trustworthy and affordable testing provider is a crucial part of your holiday planning checklist. But the government's list of hundreds of providers gives no indication of quality, so we've examined the price, refund policies, turnaround times and customer service reviews of some of the most popular test providers to help you decide. We've found that some companies such as C19 offer guarantees that results will arrive within 24 hours, and Collinson has recently announced the launch of rapid PCR testing with results provided in under three hours at its Heathrow testing centre.

Testing for All limits sales to help ensure it meets demand. Others, like Randox and Chronomics offer discounts when booked via airlines and holiday firms and airlines to reduce holiday costs. Factors like speedy results, fair pricing, refunds and ability to keep up with demand aren't a requirement for addition to the list of accredited government providers.

As a result, thousands of people have had tests fail to arrive on time, meaning longer stints in quarantine or worse, being refused entry to their flight. To help pick a good test company ahead of a trip abroad, Which? has done the legwork to help inform your research. Below we share our tips on how to choose a good provider, and which firms you should consider.

Seven things to check before you book

Make sure you're up to date with your destination's entry requirements, and confirm the exact test needed (including sensitivity and specificity of the test).

Is it an accredited provider?
A company having easy-to-access information about their UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation status is usually a good sign. You can look to see whether the company is accredited by UKAS) here. All companies which appear on the government's list of providers have at least self-declared that they meet the required standards.

Laboratories and firms that carry out testing in clinic have to go through UKAS three-stage accreditation process. Do bear in mind that all companies can initially self-declare that they meet the government's minimum requirements for four weeks before moving onto 'stage two'. Currently only around 60 of companies on the government's list of over 400 providers are fully UKAS accredited (i.e. at 'stage three').

Does it grant refunds?
Not only do fair refund policies mean your money is safe if your travel plans change, but they are a good indicator that the company is confident it can provide the service. You might also want to check the notice requirements for a refund. For example, some firms will refund up to 24 hours prior to a testing appointment, while others may expect a week's notice if your holiday is cancelled.

Remember to watch out for admin fees, too. Which? also looked for companies that offered timeframe guarantees, and refunds in the event that test results weren't delivered on-time. C19 Testing was the only company we found which refunded customers if their 'under 24 hours' deadline was not met for outbound 'fit to fly' PCR results and day 5 test to release results.

Find a company that limits sales for on time delivery
Your test provider should be confident it can meet demand and deliver tests back on time. One way to check they're taking precautions is to look on their website and FAQs to note whether they limit the number of at-home tests sold, such as Testing for All. The site might also list certain options as 'sold out', which can be another indication of good stock monitoring.

Look for discounts from your tour op/airline
Many airlines and tour operators have partnered with test providers to offer cheaper tests. Some, such as First Choice say they have vetted the testing companies they recommend. Knowing your tour operator recommends a company - especially if the operator guarantees a fee free amendment for your holiday when tests are not returned on time ahead of departure adds some reassurance.

Consider delivery/in person for speed purposes
If you're nervous about calculating the time frames for tests, or anticipate complications attempting a test at home, visit a clinic instead. This is not necessarily more expensive. For those on a tight deadline, rapid PCR tests with results delivered within three hours are also available, though currently only in Collinson's Heathrow testing site. Check social media reviews
Social media is the best way to get an idea of customer experiences.

We took into account whether each company had an established Facebook page, and if so, its review rating out of 5 (when displayed). A page's rating is based on reviews and recommendations from the public, and only Facebook pages that allow recommendations (and have enough of them) can show a rating. So, lack of a decent rating could be a red flag.

We also searched for each firm on Twitter and counted the number of negative reviews appearing on the 'Latest' page for each set of results, detailing the timeframes for each. A shorter timeframe may indicate a higher number of recent complaints overall for the company. Which? has not yet reviewed any of these companies, and therefore does not endorse any of the providers.

The below information is intended to help inform your own research.

Who would Which? Travel experts book with?

Of the companies we looked into, C19 Testing and Testing For All stood out. C19's comprehensive refund policy suggests a confidence in its ability to meet fulfil customer orders, which should in turn offer peace of mind.

Testing For All limits sales to meet demand and deadlines and has mostly positive customer reviews on social media.

Should I book a covid test with Breathe Assured?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Breathe Assured appears on the government's list of testing providers for green list day 2 tests, meaning it meets the government's minimum requirements. But specific information about Breathe Assured's level of UKAS accreditation wasn't readily available on the site, and it doesn't appear on UKAS' list of fully accredited providers. Breathe Assured does not provide PCR tests - instead, it provides vouchers for its customers to book PCR tests through Randox (see below).

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No. Breathe Assured only offers supervised virtual appointments using an at-home test. Does it grant refunds?
Mostly, no.

Breathe Assured says it is unable to accept returns or provide refunds on tests unless faulty. If a void result returns, it will send a replacement test. Discount options from airlines / tour operators
If you book directly with Randox (Breathe Assured's provider), you can access GBP43 tests using a discount code from a Randox travel industry partner.

Scroll to find these below under 'Should I book a covid test with Randox?'. Discount codes:
British Airways discount automatically applied at checkout. Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
As it only offers attended tests these are limited to booked virtual appointments.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Breathe Assured Facebook page. We found around 13 negative reviews on Twitter's Latest page for tweets mentioning Breathe Assured, a number of which mentioned that nurses hadn't attended virtual supervision appointments. Breathe Assured returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 PCR test, partnered with Randox (home): GBP45
At-home day 2 and day 8 PCR tests, partnered with Randox (home): GBP90
At-home day 5 test to release, partnered with Randox (home): GBP45

Should I book a covid test with C19 Testing?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes, its parent company Cerulean Health is accredited.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No - an in-person service is not available with C19. Does it grant refunds?
Yes. C19's refund policy is the most generous we found.

Along with guaranteed 24 hour results for day 5 tests to release and outbound PCR tests, C19 offers refunds if day 2 and day 8 results are returned late and a customer is adversely affected by the delay. It will also provide refunds for non-conclusive/void tests if the customer doesn't choose to retest. If you decide to cancel an order before it's dispatched you'll receive a full refund.

If you miss this deadline, you will still receive a partial refund, minus a fee per kit to cover postage. Discount options from airlines / tour operators
We didn't spot any discount codes but C19 is offering free UK entry antigen rapid tests with all outbound PCR tests. Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
No, but C19's comprehensive refund policy gives some indication of confidence in their ability to fulfil customer orders.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the C19 Facebook page. We spotted around 3 negative tweets mentioning C19 displayed on twitter's Latest page relating to delays in response from customer services and order processing errors. C19 returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): GBP89
Day 8 test (home): GBP89
Day 2 and 8 test bundle (home): GBP169
Day 5 test to release (home): GBP99

Should I book a covid test with Chronomics?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Chronomics appears on the government's list of testing providers meaning it meets minimum standards.

It is not fully accredited itself but uses several accredited laboratories Nonacus, Oncologica and Acculab, as well as Dante Labs which is not yet accredited. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No. Chronomics only provides at-home swab tests.

Does it grant refunds?
Yes. For those who no longer wish to use their test, Chronomics suggests "tailored advice", but says it will offer refunds for unopened or unused tests. It's possible to cancel an order up until 3pm the day before the testing kit is due to be shipped.

Customers who booked tests through Tui may be considered eligible for refunds on test packages if the holiday is cancelled, and have access to a dedicated refund request dashboard. Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Chronomics have partnered with Tui / First Choice to provide cheaper testing packages for their customers, and First Choice says it has vetted the test provider. Note that this service is currently available for holidays up until the end of November.

Jet2 and British Airways list the provider on their website. Discount codes:
Test packages for Tui / First Choice customers begin at GBP10 for antigen tests and GBP20 for a Green list package. British Airways automatically applies a discount at checkout if booked through its affiliate link. Jet2 Holidays offers GBP79 tests using the code holiday8. Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Not really.

We didn't find any mention of limited sales on Chronomics' website, although its terms and conditions did say Chronomics may not accept an order, and that this may be due to "unexpected limits on our resources which we could not reasonably plan for." Social media reviews:
No Facebook rating was visible on the Chronomics Facebook page. We found 18 negative comments about Chronomics on the latest page of Twitter mentions for the firm.

The earliest tweet on the page dated back to 24th July. Which? Is aware of Tui customers who have not received tests booked with Chronomics on time and been unable to take their holiday.

Tui will allow customers who don't get their test back in time to amend their holiday dates for free. Chronomics returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): GBP89
Day 2 / day 8 test bundle (home): GBP170
Day 5 test to release (home): GBP99
Green list bundle (antigen test to return and day 2 PCR test, home): GBP98.75
Amber list bundle (antigen test to return, day 2 PCR test and day 8 PCR test, home): GBP173.75

Should I book a covid test with Collinson?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Collinson provides at-home or in-accommodation pre-return antigen tests, and in-person departure and arrivals testing.

Collinson has also partnered with Randox to provide rapid PCR outbound testing in under 3 hours in Heathrow airport, and the service will extend to Gatwick airport in the future. Does it grant refunds?
Sometimes. If you cancel an in-person booking within 72 hours you'll be entitled to a refund.

Collinson does not offer refunds for pre-return tests (supervised or unsupervised). Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Hays Travel has partnered with Collinson to provide its customers with a discount when booking Covid tests, and refers to it as a recommended supplier. Easyjet, British Airways and Jet2 offer a discount code to customers.

Collinson also provides testing at several major airports (including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, East Midlands, Manchester airport and near Heathrow.) Discount codes: Hays Travel offers 20% off with code Hays20; Easyjet offers 20% off with code EASY20OFF, British Airways offers 20% off with code BA20OFF, Jet2 offers a set price with code HOLIDAY21 / TEST21 . Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn't find a mention of limited sales on Collinson's website, but its terms and conditions say that services are 'subject to laboratory capacity, specially trained staff and stock availability.'

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Collinson Facebook page. Twitter's Latest page displayed tweets mentioning Collinson dating back to 15th August, around nine of which were negative in some way, mentioning results failing to arrive, poor customer service and customers claiming to have been charged wrongly for tests. Collinson returns test pricing as listed on website

Rapid PCR (results within 3 hours) only near Heathrow currently GBP95
Green PCR test (on site): GBP69
Amber - Fully Vaccinated including 1x PCR test on site): GBP69
Amber - Partially or Non-Vaccinated including day 2 and day 8 PCR tests (on site): GBP138
Day 8 PCR upgrade (on site): GBP69
Day 5 test to release (on site): GBP95
LAMP GBP85
Supervised antigen video self-test: GBP42

Should I book a covid test with Eurofins?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Yes. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes. You can order an at-home swab test or book an appointment at a Eurofins 'sampling station' or drive-through testing station.

Does it grant refunds?
We found no information on refunds or cancellations on the Eurofins website, nor through a deeper site search. Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Eurofins offers discounted departure tests with British Airways. Discount codes:
British Airways 10% discount with code BA2021

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Eurofins mentions on its website that it is currently experiencing high levels of demand, but that it is currently issuing PCR tests on-time. Social media reviews
The Eurofins Global Facebook page currently has a rating of 1.3 out of 5. Eurofins' divisions all have separate Twitter accounts, making it difficult to gauge their presence on the platform.

But when we checked the first page tweets mentioning @EurofinsGroup we found six negative comments since 6th June, including complaints about delayed results and poor customer service. Eurofins returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): from GBP54.90
Day 2 test (drive-through): from GBP20 (for morning slots at Livingston and Warrington sites)
Day 2 and 8 test package (home): from GBP98
Day 2 and 8 test package (drive-through): from GBP40 (for morning slots at Livingston and Warrington sites)
Day 5 test to release (home): GBP44.90

Should I book a covid test with Expert Medicals?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
No. Expert Medicals was removed from the government's list of Covid-19 testing firms for travel on 2 September.

The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) announced on 3 September that it was launching an investigation into whether its practices breach consumer law. It is still legally allowed to sell tests but we recommend only booking with firms that are on the official government list. In June Which? published a report into the 'cheapest' Covid test providers, and the gap between listed and actual test prices.

Expert Medicals was one of the providers mentioned along with four other providers, three of which were subsequently removed from the DHSC's list of providers. We also mentioned at the time that Expert Medicals had a large number of complaints and poor ratings on Trustpilot. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Expert medicals mostly offers at-home test kits, but does also provide an on-site day 5 test to release.

Does it grant refunds?
No. Expert Medicals says it operates under a strict no refund policy with no exceptions. It says that once booked, testing kits are "non refundable".

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
We did not find any affiliations between Expert Medicals and any airlines or tour operators. Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We did not find any mentions of limited sales on Expert Medicals' website or in its terms and conditions. Social media reviews
Which? could not identify an Expert Medicals Facebook page, so was unable to gather data about reviews of its services from Facebook users.

When we checked latest tweets mentioning Expert Medicals we found around 20 negative comments since 13th August, including multiple comments about test kits and results not arriving. Expert Medicals returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): GBP28
Day 8 test (home): GBP40
Day 2 and 8 testing package (home): GBP70
Day 5 test to release (on site): GBP60

Should I book a covid test with Express Test?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Express Test appears on the government's list of Covid-19 testing firms for travel meaning it meets the minimum requirements but it has not yet been fully accredited. Express Test provides details of its level of accreditation clearly on its website.

Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes. Does it grant refunds?
Yes, in some instances. For clinic appointments, if FCDO travel advice disrupts your travel plans, you'll be refunded.

If you decide to cancel for other reasons up to 72 hours before the test, you'll receive a voucher valid for 12 months. If the cancellation is within 72 hours, you'll need to prove your plans were disrupted by cancelled flights or government travel advice changing. For home test kits, cancellations must be made at least 4 full days before your test date, and refunds won't be granted if your test kit has already been dispatched.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Trailfinders, Kuoni and Inghams - all tour operators rated highly by customers - listed Express Test as an option when pointing customers toward testing providers. It is Virgin Atlantic's recommended provider, and numerous airports use the service including Birmingham and London Heathrow. British Airways also offers a discount for this provider to its customers.

Discount codes:
Trailfinders offers a 4% discount with TF21; Inghams offers a 4% discount with HOTELPLAN; Virgin Atlantic offers some discounts with VIRGIN21; British Airways offers some discounts with BA21 Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn't find any limited sale statements on Express Test's website. Social media reviews
On its Facebook page Express Test displays an overall review rating of 2.9 out of 5.

On Twitter we found around 15 negative customer comments, dating back to 15th August, including poor customer service and delays in accessing QR codes for passenger locator forms. Express Test returns test pricing as listed on website
Green list day 2 PCR test (on site): from GBP69 (GBP79 for home tests)
Amber list day 2 PCR test (on site): from GBP69 (GBP79 for home tests)
Amber list day 2 & 8 PCR test (on site): from GBP129 (139 for home tests)
Test to release day 5 test (on site): from GBP69
Day 2, 5 and 8 test package (on site): from GBP189 Is it a fully accredited provider?
Project Screen by Prenetics does appear on the government's list of Covid-19 testing firms, but it is not fully accredited.

It uses laboratories which are UKAS applicants or accredited, and transparently list more specific information about the levels of accreditation on their website. The firm says its cheaper antigen test, which can be taken on holiday with you, is not suitable for all destinations. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes - you can order an at-home kit, or you can visit an on site 'pod' for fit to fly and day 5 test to return tests.

Does it grant refunds?
In some instances. You'll get a full refund if you cancel a home test kit and it has not yet been dispatched. Even if you cancel within 2 months of it being dispatched, you'll get a partial refund (minus a GBP20 admin fee), as long as you haven't activated the test.

The company does not provide refunds for antigen tests if the test kit has already been dispatched. If your country moves to green from amber and you choose to 'downgrade' your package you'll be refunded for tests you didn't need. For pod appointments, you'll get a full refund as long as you cancel with at least 24 hours' notice (otherwise you'll be charged in full).

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Virgin Atlantic say it has partnered with Project Screen by Prenetics to provide Covid-19 tests, and claim that "Prenetics offers reliability, and fast turnaround times". Discount codes:
Virgin Atlantic discounts are applied automatically when booked through their link. Inghams offers a 5% discount with code PreneticsHotelplan Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We did not find specific mentions of limited sales.

Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Project Screen by Prenetics Facebook page. On Twitter's Latest page we found around 4 negative reviews since April 2020. Project Screen by Prenetics returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test kit (home): from GBP79
Day 2 and day 8 test kit (home): from GBP154
Day 5 test to release test kit (home): from GBP79
Day 5 test to release (on site): from GBP99

Should I book a covid test with Randox?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
One of the UK's largest providers, Randox appear on the government list of test providers, meaning it meets the minimum requirements for providing Covid-19 testing.

However, it does not appear on UKAS's list of fully accredited providers. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
Yes. The firm offers at-home test kits, clinics and also runs Express Testing in Liverpool, Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports.

Does it grant refunds?
In specific instances. If you cancel a clinic appointment with at least 24 hours' notice you'll be refunded. Randox states in its terms and conditions that it is unable to offer refunds for unused test kits.

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Randox is partnered with numerous airlines and tour operators including RyanAir, Easyjet, Tui, British Airways and more. First Choice says it has vetted Randox for quality and recommends the provider along with two others on its website. Discount codes:
RyanAir customers should use code FLYRYANAIR to access discounted prices (listed below); British Airways offers GBP43 tests with code BritishAirways43; Easyjet offers GBP43 tests with code easyjet2021; Saga offers GBP43 tests with code SAGA; Tui offers GBP43 tests with code TUI2021; Inghams offers GBP43 code HPRX; Co-operative Travel offers one-off codes to customers for GBP48 PCR tests, GBP96 day 2 and day 8 bundles and GBP20.83 pre-return to UK antigen tests.

Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
We didn't find any limited sale statements on Randox's website. Social media reviews
No Facebook rating was visible on the Randox or Randox Health Facebook pages, which isn't a great sign for a company as large as this. We found five negative comments mentioning Randox in just a few hours (the firm is very frequently mentioned on Twitter by customers).

Comments mostly touched on concerns about overflowing or inaccessible test dropboxes. Randox says it continues to increase the number of dropboxes across the UK and is increasing the frequency of box collections. Randox returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): from GBP43 for home delivery with discount code, from GBP45 for click and collect
Day 2 test (on site): from GBP55
Day 8 test: from GBP43 with discount code
Day 8 test (on site): from GBP55
Day 2 and 8 bundle (home): from GBP86 for home delivery with discount code, from GBP90 for click and collect
Day 5 test: from GBP43 with discount code
Day 5 test (on site): from GBP55
Amber travel pack including 1 x pre-departure (from UK), 1 x day 2 PCR, 1 x day 8
PCR Test (home): from GBP129 for at home delivery with discount code
Fully vaccinated amber travel pack including including 1 x pre-departure PCR (from UK) and 1 x day 2 PCR (home): from GBP86 for home delivery with discount code, from GBP90 for click and collect

Should I book a covid test with Testing For All?

Is it a fully accredited provider?
Testing For All appears on the government's list of test providers, meaning it meets the minimum standards.

It doesn't provide testing or laboratory services itself, meaning it doesn't need accreditation but its laboratory partner Nonacus is accredited. It's a not-for-profit, claiming a mission to 'make COVID-19 testing accessible and affordable to anyone who needs it'. Are both delivery and in-person tests available?
No.

Testing for All only provides at-home swab tests. Does it grant refunds?
Yes, in certain circumstances. If your travel plans change and your new preferred date isn't available due to sale quotas, Testing for All will provide a refund.

This refund will be in full if you cancel before the kit is dispatched. If you cancel after it has been dispatched, Testing For All says it will only grant a partial refund. The refund policy also stipulates that it will provide a refund if Testing For All cannot provide results (as long the quality of your swab sample is not the reason for the failure).

Discount options from airlines / tour operators
Testing For All does not currently list any airline or tour operator partners on its website. Discount codes:
We aren't aware of any existing discount codes for Testing For All, but on its website it claims it prices tests at the minimum cost it can, based on the volume of testing. Does this company say it limits sales to help meet demand?
Testing For All's website claims the provider sticks to "strict sales volume quotas".

You'll notice certain travel dates are listed as 'sold out' on the booking page, and Testing for All explains that this is in order to match the number of tests its laboratory partners can process. This system is intended to ensure Testing For All delivers your test results on time. Social media reviews
Testing for All is currently scoring 4.5/5 on its Facebook page.

Twitter's Latest page showed comments dating back to 6th August, 13 of which were negative comments. These negative comments mostly mentioned delays in receiving confirmation emails - something the firm addressed on 15th August and is working to fix. If your confirmation email is late, it has explained that the Order Code for passenger locator forms is visible on your order confirmation page.

Testing For All returns test pricing as listed on website
Day 2 test (home): GBP48
Day 2 and 8 package (home): GBP89
Flexible PCR test (home, suitable for fit to fly certificates and test to release if performed with video consultation): GBP69 A note on pricing
We have listed the cost of UK arrivals PCR tests and test bundles below. All prices were correct on 08/09/2021 and may be subject to change.

Prices listed may or may not reflect actual costs at checkout - a Which?

Investigation published in June showed that some test providers quoted unobtainable prices on websites, with gaps between advertised and actual costs.

Categories
Coupons & Offers

Warm Home Discount opens for £140 off energy bills

Struggling households can now apply for a one-off payment worth GBP140 to help toward the cost of their energy bills. The support comes from the Warm Home Discount scheme, which you can apply for directly through your energy supplier. Some companies have already started taking applications with more firms expected to follow suit in September.

The extra help will come in handy as energy bills are set to rise after the regulator Ofgem confirmed it is increasing its price cap - the maximum amount suppliers can charge customers - in a move that will affect 15 million homes. Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of GBP139 from GBP1,138 to GBP1,277 from October 1. Prepayment customers will see bills rise by GBP153 from GBP1,156 to GBP1309.

Are energy bills too high? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

(Getty Images)

What is the Warm Home Discount scheme?

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off payment of GBP140 that is designed to help cover the cost of heating your home. The government confirmed last month that this amount will rise to GBP150 but no date has been set yet for when this increase will happen.

The money from the Warm Home Discount Scheme is not paid to you as a cash sum. Instead, it is normally paid directly to your energy supplier, who will then apply the discount to your energy bills. The discount is applied between October and March.

Or if you have a pre-payment meter, you'll be sent a GBP140 voucher that can be used to top up your meter.

The help is offered to those on low incomesThe help is offered to those on low incomes (Getty Images)

Who is eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme?

To qualify for the Warm Home Discount scheme, you must fall into one of the two categories:

  • You get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the "core group"
  • You're on a low income and meet your energy supplier's criteria for the scheme - known as the "broader group"

How you apply for the Warm Home Discount scheme depends on how you qualify for the discount.

How do you apply for the Warm Home Discount scheme?

The first step is to check if your energy supplier offers the Warm Home Discount scheme, as not all suppliers are signed up to the support. If your energy provider is part of the scheme, those in the "core group" should receive a letter between October and December 2021 telling them how to get the discount. This letter will say if you need to call a helpline by February 28, 2022 to confirm your details.

If you don't get a letter by December 31, and you think you're eligible, you can contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214. Those in the "broader group" who are on a low-income can apply directly to their energy supplier, again, providing they are taking part in the scheme. Each energy supplier will set their own eligibility criteria to decide who gets the discount.

Each firm will also only have a certain amount of support they can offer, so it's best to apply sooner rather than later to avoid missing out.

Which energy suppliers are open for applications now?

Open for applications:

Open for registration (sign up to be emailed when the scheme opens):

EDF to raise prices by GBP139 this winter - with all other energy firms to followmirrorBrits to be paid GBP7k to ditch old boilers under Clean Heats Grant - how it'll workmirror

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Inside new discount supermarket Mere which claims to be 30% cheaper than rivals

A supermarket dubbed the "Russian Lidl" has opened its first UK store - and The Mirror has been to take a look inside. Our first impressions of the first Mere, in Preston, are that it's super-clean and light but extremely back-to-basics. The breezeblock walls are painted in a vibrant yellow and white, but still look a bit... bleak.

But no-one visiting Mere is there for the interior design. The discount grocery chain claims to be 30% cheaper than even Aldi and Lidl . If having a basic ethos means prices are lower for shoppers, we're all for it.

Everything in Mere is geared around keeping costs down. Suppliers deliver straight to the shops, cutting down costs on having to store items elsewhere. Each store in the UK will have just eight staff.

Mere promises to be cheerful - and cheapMere promises to be cheerful - and cheap (Dave Nelson)

Goods are stacked on pallets on the floor, with shoppers helping themselves to what they want.

The downside is this adds a bit longer to your shopping trip. In a normal supermarket, with everything unpacked on shelves it is easy to see what you're looking for. In Mere, you have to get right up close to many pallets to see what they contain.

The new supermarket has managed to meet its promise to be super-cheap.

Russian retailer Mere , Ribbleton PrestonMore of the goods available at the 'UK's cheapest supermarket' (Dave Nelson)

For example, a 400g packet of dried pasta costs just 23p at Mere. The same thing costs 29p at Aldi, and between 45-50p in most other supermarkets. Likewise, 24 rolls of own-brand toilet paper is GBP2.70 at Mere, GBP5.79 in Aldi and GBP5.90 in Asda.

An 800g tin of peeled tomatoes is 39p in Mere - incredible value. Mere also sells a surprising number of branded goods.

Some of the branded goods available at the new supermarketSome of the branded goods available at the new supermarket (Dave Nelson)

These include Fairy washing up liquid, Shreddies cereal, Nescafe coffee, Pampers nappies and Lenor detergent. Mere also sells Cusheen and Luxe toilet paper, Maxsonic batteries, Reach sanitising wipes and Warrior energy drinks.

It claims to have around 1,200 products overall. But when you're actually shopping, 1,200 isn't as big a number as it sounds, and Mere doesn't stock a lot of things you'll likely need.

Some items don't translate too well - like these Tat tomatoesSome items don't translate too well - like these Tat tomatoes (Dave Nelson)

For starters, it doesn't sell fruit or vegetables, except in cans or dried. It also doesn't stock bread, milk or eggs.

At the moment Mere is great to visit occasionally and do a big shop for store cupboard essentials. But it's less useful if you only want to do one supermarket trip a week, as you'll need to top up elsewhere.

Russian retailer Mere , Ribbleton PrestonThere are also fridges and a walk-in chiller (Dave Nelson)

A further three Mere outlets are also planned this year - including two in Wales, in Mold and Caldicot, and another in Castleford in the north of England. In total, the discounter has said it wants to open 300 sites in the UK in the next eight to ten years - but no other locations have been confirmed as of yet.

Mere, which trades as Svetofor in Russia, has 3,200 stores internationally and opened its first European Mere store in 2018.

Countries it now operates in include Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

Mass brawl in Aldi car park involving 50 people - with woman seriously injuredmirrorMum claims speed of 'aggressive' Aldi cashier left her 'crying and shaking'mirror

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We look inside the first UK branch of Mere, the super-cheap new supermarket

A supermarket dubbed the "Russian Lidl" has opened its first UK store - and The Mirror has been to take a look inside. Our first impressions of the first Mere, in Preston, are that it's super-clean and light but extremely back-to-basics. The breezeblock walls are painted in a vibrant yellow and white, but still look a bit... bleak.

But no-one visiting Mere is there for the interior design. The discount grocery chain claims to be 30% cheaper than even Aldi and Lidl . If having a basic ethos means prices are lower for shoppers, we're all for it.

Everything in Mere is geared around keeping costs down. Suppliers deliver straight to the shops, cutting down costs on having to store items elsewhere. Each store in the UK will have just eight staff.

Mere promises to be cheerful - and cheapMere promises to be cheerful - and cheap (Dave Nelson)

Goods are stacked on pallets on the floor, with shoppers helping themselves to what they want.

The downside is this adds a bit longer to your shopping trip. In a normal supermarket, with everything unpacked on shelves it is easy to see what you're looking for. In Mere, you have to get right up close to many pallets to see what they contain.

The new supermarket has managed to meet its promise to be super-cheap.

Russian retailer Mere , Ribbleton PrestonMore of the goods available at the 'UK's cheapest supermarket' (Dave Nelson)

For example, a 400g packet of dried pasta costs just 23p at Mere. The same thing costs 29p at Aldi, and between 45-50p in most other supermarkets. Likewise, 24 rolls of own-brand toilet paper is GBP2.70 at Mere, GBP5.79 in Aldi and GBP5.90 in Asda.

An 800g tin of peeled tomatoes is 39p in Mere - incredible value. Mere also sells a surprising number of branded goods.

Some of the branded goods available at the new supermarketSome of the branded goods available at the new supermarket (Dave Nelson)

These include Fairy washing up liquid, Shreddies cereal, Nescafe coffee, Pampers nappies and Lenor detergent. Mere also sells Cusheen and Luxe toilet paper, Maxsonic batteries, Reach sanitising wipes and Warrior energy drinks.

It claims to have around 1,200 products overall. But when you're actually shopping, 1,200 isn't as big a number as it sounds, and Mere doesn't stock a lot of things you'll likely need.

Some items don't translate too well - like these Tat tomatoesSome items don't translate too well - like these Tat tomatoes (Dave Nelson)

For starters, it doesn't sell fruit or vegetables, except in cans or dried. It also doesn't stock bread, milk or eggs.

At the moment Mere is great to visit occasionally and do a big shop for store cupboard essentials. But it's less useful if you only want to do one supermarket trip a week, as you'll need to top up elsewhere.

Russian retailer Mere , Ribbleton PrestonThere are also fridges and a walk-in chiller (Dave Nelson)

A further three Mere outlets are also planned this year - including two in Wales, in Mold and Caldicot, and another in Castleford in the north of England. In total, the discounter has said it wants to open 300 sites in the UK in the next eight to ten years - but no other locations have been confirmed as of yet.

Mere, which trades as Svetofor in Russia, has 3,200 stores internationally and opened its first European Mere store in 2018.

Countries it now operates in include Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

Mass brawl in Aldi car park involving 50 people - with woman seriously injuredmirrorMum claims speed of 'aggressive' Aldi cashier left her 'crying and shaking'mirror

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Coronavirus vaccine ‘rewards’ including Asda vouchers and Lastminute.com discount

More of the country's best-known businesses will offer rewards to customers who are vaccinated against Covid-19. Asda, lastminute.com, National Express, Free Now taxis and Better leisure centres are among those offering incentives to encourage younger people to get vaccinated. Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo have already said they will offer discounted rides and meals for customers who get a Covid-19 jab, to help boost vaccine uptake.

READ MORE: Dog walker whips pug owner in the face with lead after row erupts in park The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Asda will offer GBP10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to vaccinated 18 to 30-year-olds who spend over GBP20. The travel company lastminute.com will offer over-18s GBP30 gift cards towards holidays abroad to all young people getting vaccinated through their website.

Better leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher to use on any Better membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK. Taxi app Free Now will provide up to GBP1 million in free rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment each way from Sunday until the end of September, while National Express Buses (Midlands) will offer 1,000 people five-day unlimited travel saver tickets which can be used within 90 days. The DHSC said Deliveroo has also revealed further details of their support, which will include thousands of GBP5 vouchers to those who get the vaccine, distributed in the coming weeks.

Bolt will be offering GBP10 vouchers for 10,000 rides from next week in Birmingham and Leicester, and Uber is expected to announce further details around their drive to help students get vaccinated ahead of term time. Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It is fantastic to see more companies backing the phenomenal vaccine rollout and joining the public as they do everything they can to continue protecting their loved ones, themselves, their community and this country." He added: "With over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented by the vaccines, get the jab as soon as possible and take advantage of these excellent offers - whether that's for taxi rides, gym passes, or trips away with family and friends."

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Beware a bargain when tempted by a platform promotion

  • You can learn a lot about a platform by assessing what promotions it offers
  • It is rarely likely to be a good idea to base an investment decision on a special offer

According to a survey by RetailMeNot, nearly 70 per cent of millennials look for a deal before making a purchase and two-thirds of consumers have made a purchase they weren't originally planning to make, solely based on finding a coupon or discount. It's all very well to do this with one-off transactions, but when investing you should not base your decisions on what appear to be bargain offers made by your platform. The notorious Stanford Marshmallow experiment springs to mind, where children were offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time.

In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes.  Investment platform discounts are great - as long as you don't make decisions based on their availability. And while some genuinely offer valuable rewards, other offers look like they might do more harm than good.

Getting more customers

Some platforms, such as Bestinvest and AJ Bell Youinvest, offer to cover any exit fees your broker charges if you decide to switch to them.

They both offer to cover costs up to a maximum of GBP500. To be eligible for this deal with AJ Bell, the monies being transferred must be worth more than GBP20,000. This is a great offer because it reduces the barriers to competition from brokers which have not followed the regulator's encouragement to remove exit fees.

Most platforms have, however, so it is not a deal of not much use in most potential cases.  interactive investor takes a slightly different approach to transfers. It gives GBP100 in cash to investors transferring individual savings accounts (Isa) and to its platform, if the transfer value is over GBP20,000.

However, interactive investor's website says that the offer ends on 31 August, so it will be interesting to see what it offers those transferring to it after that date - applying urgency to a deal is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Lots of platforms also offer money to recommend a friend. This is one of the most powerful marketing tools platforms have so, while it can be a nice bonus, it is not advisable to be influenced, or to influence anyone else, on the basis of these deals.

There are so many things to consider when picking a platform such as financial stability, availability of securities, customer service levels and costs, that any promotion should be insignificant in the decision making process.   Platforms offering referral bonuses 

Platform Details of referral bonus
AJ Bell  GBP100 when you recommend a friend. You also get a free copy of 'The DIY Investor' written by the company's founder, AJ Bell.
interactive investor  GBP100 when you recommend a friend and the person recommended gets a year's free service.

Account fees are GBP9.99 a month or GBP19.99 for self-invested personal pensions (Sipps) so, for example, Sipp holders could save nearly GBP240 in their first year. 

IG £100 (GBP72.13) if you refer a friend and they make five qualifying trades within three months of opening the account. The reward goes up to a maximum of £2,000, if your friend pays over £4,000 in spreads or commissions within the first three months of opening their account. 
Freetrade Free share if you refer a friend. You can refer as many friends as you want and receive a free share worth between GBP3 and GBP200 each time.

There's no predetermined list so you might get a US or UK listed stock, an exchange traded fund (ETF) or investment trust.

Stake Also offers free stock but options are more limited. You and the person you refer both get a free share in one of GoPro (US:GPRO), Dropbox (US:DBX) or Nike (US:NKE).
eToro £50 if you refer a friend, provided they deposit at least £200 in the account within 14 days of opening it and deal at least £100. 
Investengine This platform, which became available to private investors last month, only offers ETFs. It gives all new joiners GBP50 and an extra GBP25 to both parties for a referral. 
Source: platform providers. 

Hargreaves Lansdown, to its credit, is not currently running a friend referral promotion.

As the surge in customers amid lockdowns put pressure on its operations and led to service delays for transfers, promotions appear to have been scaled back although its marketing spend increased last year. However, it has a scheme for its advisory service: if you take advice following a quick consultation from its advisory helpdesk, it will pay both referrer and referee GBP100.

Luring customers to trade more

Several platforms offer permanent promotions around dealing. IG, Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell lower their dealing fee the more you trade. If you trade often, this can make a considerable difference to your overall cost of investing, so you need to think about how you use your platforms when working out which one is best for you. 

If you trade a lot, there are a growing number of platforms that don't charge any dealing commission. They are establishing so called 'freemium' models, where certain services are provided at no extra cost but in most cases you pay a monthly subscription. When you deal foreign shares, remember that the foreign exchange charge is likely to be significantly higher than any dealing fees. This is why interactive investor's sporadic waiving of its dealing fee for US stocks around earnings season may not save you very much.

Although it cuts the GBP7.99 dealing fee, there is still a 1.5 per cent foreign exchange charge. interactive investor does, however, give every customer one free trade per month. This makes their accounts more cost effective than they may appear at first sight if you don't trade frequently and time your dealing accordingly. 

Tempting with the big bucks! 

Some platforms offer prize draws which really can make a difference to the lucky few. Barclays Smart Investor has launched a new prize draw recently, with 13 cash prizes.

One customer will win GBP10,000, two customers will receive GBP5,000, and 10 more will receive GBP1,000 each. Customers with accounts worth over GBP500 are added to the draw automatically.  Clare Francis, director of savings & investments at Barclays, said: "Our research has shown that more than 80 per cent of those who invested for the first time under lockdown plan to keep up their investment habits, so we've launched this prize draw to support those who are working hard to invest for their future." However, as many as a fifth of its customers don't plan to keep up their investing habits but the prize draw will be a nice boon for those who win.

As far as incentives go, it also feels more generous than others as it is not trying to push you into any action with the offer. One of my favourite offers comes from Hargreaves Lansdown. New customers opening a stocks and shares Isa with them can benefit from its Isa promise, that if you're not satisfied with its service in your first 12 months as a client and choose to switch to another provider, it will refund its annual account charge.

Shame it doesn't offer customers with accounts other than Isas similar offers. 

Vanguard is one of the few platforms that doesn't offer promotions.

Jonathan Goodstone, public relations manager at Vanguard, says: "Generally, our approach is to look for ways to serve all investors equally, across the services and fund range, which lends itself more to initiatives like the comprehensive reduction of fund fees in 2019."

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Amazon Launches Rakhi Store With Deals on Phones, Speakers, More

Amazon Rakhi Store has been launched just ahead of the Raksha Bandhan festival this weekend. The store is specially curated with a wide range of products for gifting siblings. Products in the gadgets segment comprise smartphones, TVs, accessories, more.

The e-commerce site has introduced deals on OnePlus Nord CE 5G and Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Even the OnePlus Buds Z TWS earbuds are listed with offers. Other products such as Echo Dot (third generation) and the Fire TV Stick (third generation) are also listed with discounts.

The e-commerce giant says that Amazon's Android app users can use Alexa voice assistance to access the Rakhi Store. Users can tap the mic icon on the app and say "Alexa, go to Rakhi Store" and land there directly. Alternatively, users could head to this dedicated microsite on Amazon's desktop site. Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (Glacial Blue, 6GB + 128GB) is listed with an instant Rs.

1,500 discount on HDFC Bank cards. There's an exchange discount of up to Rs.

13,700 and no-cost EMI options are also listed. Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is priced starting at Rs.

19,999. OnePlus Nord CE 5G (Charcoal Ink, 6GB + 128GB) is listed with an instant Rs.

1,000 discount on HDFC Bank cards. The same exchange discount and no-cost EMI options as Redmi Note 10 Pro Max are listed for the OnePlus handset as well.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G is priced starting at Rs.

22,999. There's up to 40 percent off on televisions and Amazon even lists the OnePlus Buds Z as an ideal gifting option. The TWS earbuds are priced at Rs.

2,999 and are listed with 10 percent instant discount on IndusInd Bank cards. There's also the Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen, 2021 model) that is listed with a Rs.

900 coupon discount. Priced at Rs.

3,999, it is also listed with no-cost EMI options. Buyers could also consider the Echo Dot (3rd Gen, Black) smart speaker + Wipro 9W LED Smart colour bulb combo, priced at Rs.

3,599. For those who want to splurge a little extra, there's Sony Bravia 55-inch 4K Ultra-HD Smart TV with inbuilt Alexa that is listed with a Rs.

3,000 coupon discount, no-cost EMI options, and exchange discount of up to Rs.

6,140. For those who are confused about what to gift their siblings, Amazon also offers an Amazon Pay Gift Card option.


Can Nothing Ear 1 -- the first product from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei's new outfit -- be an AirPods killer? We discussed this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast.

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Bolt to offer young people £10 voucher to get Covid vaccine

Young people in Leicester are being offered a GBP10 taxi voucher as part of an incentive to get vaccinated. From next week, taxi service, Bolt, will be offering 10,000 young people the voucher if they go and get the vaccine in both Leicester and Birmingham. This is one of many different deals currently being offered by companies to convince young people to get the jab - in partnership with the government to boost vaccine numbers before an expected rise in cases in the autumn and winter.

READ MORE: Leicester Comedy Festival to publish All Puns Blazing joke book Two thirds of young people have already had the jab, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, but the government is hoping for more people to get vaccinated. Other companies, such as Asda, lastminute.com, National Express, Free Now taxis, and Better Leisure Centres have also announced a number of deals in the coming weeks to help convince people to get a jab.

Uber and Deliveroo are also set to offer different deals to provide discounted lifts and food deliveries, too. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Asda will offer GBP10 vouchers for their clothing brand George to vaccinated 18 to 30-year-olds who spend over GBP20. The travel company lastminute.com will offer over-18s GBP30 gift cards towards holidays abroad to all young people getting vaccinated through their website.

Better leisure centres will offer over-16s a GBP10 voucher to use on any Better membership and a free three-day pass at any of their 235 leisure facilities across the UK.

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Taxi app Free Now will provide up to GBP1 million in free rides for over-18s attending their vaccine appointment each way from Sunday until the end of September, while National Express Buses (Midlands) will offer 1,000 people five-day unlimited travel saver tickets which can be used within 90 days. The DHSC said Deliveroo has also revealed further details of their support, which will include thousands of GBP5 vouchers to those who get the vaccine, distributed in the coming weeks. Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It is fantastic to see more companies backing the phenomenal vaccine rollout and joining the public as they do everything they can to continue protecting their loved ones, themselves, their community and this country."

He added: "With over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented by the vaccines, get the jab as soon as possible and take advantage of these excellent offers - whether that's for taxi rides, gym passes, or trips away with family and friends."

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The Legacy of Eat Out to Help Out: The scheme that promised to save hospitality

On July 8 last year, UK Government Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new discount scheme offering everyone the chance to eat in cafes, bars and restaurants for half price. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was billed as a much-needed shot in the arm of the UK economy which had lost millions since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Grinning as he posed for photos and cheerfully smoothed out stickers on the windows of eateries all over the country.

Mr Sunak said at the time: "This moment is unique. We need to be creative." Read more: The 18 months that have changed Wales forever and how easy it is to forget just what we have all been through

From traders who'd earned almost no income over the past six months, to members of the public fed up with being stuck indoors during lockdown, the plans were equally as welcome. But a year on, opinions have been mixed. Some have hailed Eat Out to Help Out as having saved them from possible closure and encouraging people to come out and spend their money.

Others have questioned its impact on the economy, while research has speculated on whether it may have helped drive the spread of Covid-19 as the winter season approached. We've looked back on the scheme 12 months later and spoken to businesses about how they feel.

'I'd be lying if I said it didn't benefit us, but in hindsight it could have had the adverse effect'

Allan Rohman, manager at the Brunswick Arms pub in Swansea, said while the scheme undoubtedly helped the business out, he felt the way some restaurants ran it could have led to the virus spreading more quickly. "It was busy during the hours we were serving food during that period, but once food had finished, it was quiet," he said.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't benefit [us] - it did - but possibly in hindsight, it could have had the adverse effect where there were certain establishments, without naming any, ramming people in, so social distancing went out the window. "So health-wise, that could've contributed to further spikes." What do you think of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The Brunswick Arms in SwanseaThe Brunswick Arms in Swansea

Allan said the pub was "busier the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday" when the scheme was running, but that it "definitely" noticed a drop-off on Fridays and Saturdays. He said this didn't help as the pub, like many hospitality businesses at the time, was already operating on reduced capacity. "Before lockdown we had 28 tables.

When we opened back up we had to reduce it down to 17 tables, so we had ten tables that were put into storage until now. We're in the process of getting those back. "If it had been conducted properly, it would have been [a good idea].

I've got to say, it helped us one heck of a lot, for a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - almost every table was full for the time that we had it. "But I know I had a lot of customers coming in who'd been to other places and didn't feel safe in them. You've only got to look at the reports from the environmental officers visiting these establishments who got warned and fined for it."

Did Eat Out to Help Out drive up coronavirus infections?

Ever since last August, there has been debate over whether encouraging people to dine out helped the virus spread.

Last October, just over a month after the scheme wrapped up, new research from Dr Thiemo Fetzer, a researcher at the CAGE Research Centre at the University of Warwick, suggested it had caused a rise in Covid-19 infections of between 8% and 17%. Mr Sunak has denied the scheme contributed to a rise in infections, saying in February: "Areas where Eat Out to Help Out was used the most, for example in the south west, were the slowest to see any rise and in fact had very low infection rates. "And almost all other major countries have had rises over the autumn and winter and they didn't have Eat Out to Help Out so I think it's a bit odd to ascribe causality in that way."

In looking at the level of infections in Wales particularly, it is difficult to assess how big a part the scheme played. First of all, it is helpful to look at the infection rate last August, and how that changed. After falling for months during the first lockdown, the rolling seven day average of new coronavirus infections in Wales reached its lowest point between August 10 and August 13, when there were just 3.6 cases for every 100,000 people in Wales a week.

Two weeks later, on August 27, it was double that rate. Ten days later on September 4 it had doubled again, and continued to rise until Wales introduced its first in a series of local lockdowns in Caerphilly on September 8.

A partly-torn Eat Out to Help Out sticker on the window of a restaurantA partly-torn Eat Out to Help Out sticker on the window of a restaurant

Why did this happen? There were a number of significant changes in August which are likely to have contributed to the rise in the rate of infection.

During the first half of the month hospitality businesses, leisure centres and gyms all reopened for the first time since March. People also started going on holiday again both at home and abroad, leading to a number of coronavirus clusters linked to travel. There is no doubt that offering 50% discounts in restaurants brought people out in their droves.

But it can also be argued that after spending five months cooped up indoors, people were going to go to pubs and restaurants again when they reopened anyway. Even if businesses adhered perfectly to all the regulations - adequate spacing of tables and policing of the rules on face masks etc - there may have been a rise in cases regardless, given the simple fact that the virus is much more likely to be transmitted indoors. Add into the mix the hundreds of businesses which were reprimanded for not following the rules properly, and it's hard to see an outcome other than cases and infection rates rising.

The eye-watering costs of the scheme have also been questioned. After Eat Out to Help Out concluded, it was revealed that it had cost the government a whopping GBP522 million thanks to so many businesses having claimed. More recent estimates have been even higher.

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'We had a bit of hassle with it'

Paul Cinderey runs the Paddick Inn pub in Tenby, one of Wales' most popular holiday spots.

He said the pub noticed an uptick in difficult customers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays after the scheme began. "We were really busy with it, it was a bit of a boost. But we had a bit of hassle with it as well.

"[There were people] going mad, rude, bad-mannered. Everything really. There was quite a few other other places throughout the country that had the same trouble.

"We get a percentage of that anyway, especially now in this area. People don't want to be waiting, and everywhere is short-staffed. "If we'd had something like it [the scheme] this year we just wouldn't have coped with it.

We just can't get enough staff. "We couldn't get them last year, and it's the same this year."

The Paddick Inn, TenbyThe Paddick Inn, Tenby

Last year, WalesOnline reported how the Paddick was considering discontinuing Eat Out to Help Out after being met by "rude" customers eager to take advantage of it. But Paul said he wasn't sure about the claims that the scheme had contributed to the spread of the virus.

"Personally I don't know. I think it depends on the venue at the end of the day. I mean, we've got quite a bit of space here and we'd reduced capacity anyway."

Sam Shangeh is director of Ferdos restaurant on Orchard Street in Swansea. He said the scheme helped keep the business ticking during the toughest times. "My opinion hasn't changed, to be honest.

I thought it was really good to help the businesses. We were shut for a couple of months at the time, and it was really good to bring back diners into the restaurant. I thought it was very helpful and that it was a successful scheme.

"It was really busy from Monday to Wednesday. It was quiet during the weekend, which was normal because people were trying to come during the days of the scheme. It was a good help for the restaurant.

"If we didn't have these people to support us at the time... Many of the businesses, they were struggling. It boosted the takings, we were able to pay our staff, pay our rent.

"People stayed away from restaurants for a couple of months. I thought at the start they would start cooking at home and not coming out to restaurants like they did before. "It was a good way to bring those people back."

Ferdos Restaurant in SwanseaFerdos Restaurant in Swansea

Opinions from traders and scientists have certainly been mixed, but the popularity of the scheme led many to continue it for the month of September after the government had officially ended it.

And some said they would even be open to another similar scheme if it was offered. One business owner in Caldicot which faces possible closure due to lack of funding said recently that Eat Out to Help Out "was excellent for business last year" and that "something like that would help us now." Lara Gulotta's parents Dino and Tracy Gulotta have run Villa Dino Italian restaurant in Newport for 36 years.

She said another discount scheme would provide a boost to businesses as people in Wales enjoy the greatest period of freedom from restrictions since the pandemic began. "We loved the scheme and it encouraged people to dine out, especially earlier in the week when we tended to be a bit quieter," she said. "We actually extended the scheme beyond when the government stopped their initiative just to keep up the momentum of customers waking through the door.

We found that was a success too. "Now that restrictions have been lifted we would like to see something similar put in place." Sam Shangeh from Ferdos in Swansea added: "We could have had the same scheme this year, you know, after the second lockdown I think it would be helpful.

I think the businesses would be interested, would be supportive of it. "Covid has impacted so many businesses, so many have been struggling or closed down. "However people might have different opinions on it, I think it was a good scheme to support businesses at the time."

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