THOUSANDS of pubs could close forever unless the Government bring in a bailout scheme, MPs have claimed.
Politicians from all the main parties have urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide “tailored support” to help Britain’s boozers stay afloat in the pandemic.
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They have demanded urgent changes to how pubs are treated, including lifting restrictions on funding, stopping big pub companies charging tenants rent during the crisis, and continuing with the furlough scheme.
In a letter, they said: “Pubs face a unique combination of challenges. They are the least likely to be able to offer their products for delivery or online.
“They are highly dependent on property and any continuation of social distancing measures is likely to make it difficult or impossible to reopen or operate on a scale that breaks even.
“Pubs have also been identified by the Government as being amongst the last businesses that will be allowed to reopen.”
Organised by Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper, the letter was signed by 40 MPs from across the political spectrum, including one from the Conservative party.
It was also endorsed by the Campaign for Real Ale, who urged action to save British workers.
CEO Tom Stainer said: “It has been estimated that up 19,000 pubs are now at risk of permanent closure as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, which also means that jobs are on the line and consumers stand to lose out on the social and wellbeing benefits of pub-going.
“Up to 20 per cent of pubs may not be eligible for grant support due to their high rateable value – but that doesn’t mean they are better able than smaller pubs to weather this storm, so it’s imperative that the grant scheme is extended to offer them support.”
Britain boasts 60,000 pubs, directly employing 457,000 people.
However, they won’t open again until at least July 4 with Boris Johnson continuing to review the Government’s new measures.
A Treasury spokeswoman said: “The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to the coronavirus.
“The Government has provided billions of pounds in cash grants to hundreds of thousands of businesses and protected 7.5 million jobs through our job-retention scheme, supporting businesses across UK, and we are giving all businesses who need it, including those in the hospitality sector, more time to pay tax bills, with no interest or late penalties.”
It comes as it emerged pubs cafes and restaurants could be open to sell pints and food as market-style outdoor stalls in just weeks.
Ministers are drawing up plans to relax outdoor seating licences as part of measures to get Britain moving again.
Next month marks the earliest possible time the second stage of the Government’s three step plan to reopen Britain can get underway.
It is hoped the outdoor openings will allow businesses to get people back to work.
Government sources have said they want to find “small, simple changes” to help get business going again.
Shops may also be able to set up outdoor stalls which can allow them to sell their wares on the streets.
A Whitehall source said it could lead to a “more vibrant style of continental town centres” arriving in Britain for the summer.
The plan however is once again conditional on the continued decline of the virus based on the Covid Alert System.
Pubs and bars have already begun reopening in other countries, such as in Germany, Spain and Australia.
Britain saw the first easing of coronavirus measures last week – with permission granted for unlimited outdoor exercise and some sectors returning to work.
The PM is also considering how to expand household groups following confusion over advice which said you can only meet one other person, such as just one parent.
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