'Bail out our pubs!' Rishi Sunak urged to take action as thousands of boozers on the brink

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey is calling on the Government to compensate pubs and small businesses in the hospitality sector including restaurants that are at risk of closure. Almost 10,000 pubs, clubs and restaurants have closed permanently since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with fears thousands more are on the brink of shutting down.

Sir Ed said: “Without a proper package of help it will be last orders for many local pubs.

“Thriving businesses that were once the heart of our community must not be forced to close through no fault of their own.

“I am calling on Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to act now or risk the closure of thousands of Britain’s locals.

“So far, the Government’s pint-sized support for this vital sector has been bottom of the barrel.”

READ MORE: Farage tears apart Boris’s pub passport plans – ‘Just unenforceable’

Currently, there is close to £3billion in unsettled rent within the hospitality sector after many venues have been forced to shut their doors for more than half of the last year due to lockdown.

Pubs are not allowed to reopen under the roadmap out of lockdown until April 12 and even then they will only be allowed to serve customers in outdoor settings, in either a group of six or two households.

Indoor hospitality will only resume from May 17 at the earliest.

Under the policy being promoted by the Lib Dems, pubs and hospitality businesses would be allowed to claim up to 80 percent of their rental costs from the Government.

The rebate on their costs could be available to any landlords who have seen at least a 30 percent drop in revenue compared to prior to the pandemic.

A number of measures to support struggling hospitality firms have been announced by the Government, including the scrapping of business rates for the 2020/2021 tax year, the furlough scheme access to a number of loans.

READ MORE: Pubs could ban customers who aren’t vaccinated

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has said the sector is “desperate” for Government support following the mammoth hit on revenue the pandemic has taken since March last year.

CAMRA National Chairman, Nik Antona, said: “This year has been one of the toughest on record, and particularly hard hit is the hospitality industry – which was one of the first sectors to close at the start of the pandemic, and will be one of the last to re-open.

“As consumers, we want our local pubs, ​clubs, breweries and cider makers not only to survive, but to thrive.

“Pubs are a vital part of communities across the country – they provide a space for people to meet, tackle loneliness and help to strengthen the local community.”

He added: “CAMRA believes that pubs will play a huge role in both the social and economic recovery from the pandemic – but in order to do this, they are in desperate need of sector-specific Government support.”

The Liberal Democrats leader will this afternoon travel meet with a pub landlord to discuss the struggles faced by hospitality has faced during the pandemic.

Responding to the policy, a BEIS spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We know it has been a difficult time for pubs but our support has been among the most generous in the world.

“As pubs gear up to reopen once more, we are offering new Restart Grants worth up to £18,000 – part of our much wider £352billion support package, as well as a moratorium on eviction for commercial tenants and new measures to make it easier to serve people outside.”

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