OTLEY’S MP is asking the Government to step in to ensure pubs survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Many pub companies are still charging full rents to tenant landlords who are having to use government grants - intended to help them stay in business while their cash flow is affected - to pay.

The issue was flagged up by Otley Pub Club and the British Pub Confederation, who have called for a cancellation of commercial pub rents during the lockdown, last month.

Now Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West), Shadow Minister for Tourism and Heritage, has taken up the issue by writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Sobel said: “Since the enforced closure some large pub companies, such as Marstons and Adnmans, are cancelling rents but unfortunately not all companies are following suit.

“Tenants are therefore being forced into using the grants they have received from the Government to pay their rent as opposed to using it for the purpose intended which, according to the Government, is to provide licensees with ‘support with their cash flow and fixed costs’.

“I have today written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP asking that the Government either ensure they make it clear to the pub companies that grants awarded to tenant landlords cannot be demanded for rent payments (these companies themselves are also eligible for financial help) or that a financial support package be put in place to ensure the survival of pubs.”

Writing on his daily blog, Mr Sobel said he had been contacted by lots of local licensees who were warning that they could soon fold unless their financial situations improve.

He added: “Many tenants have informed me that they cannot survive the closure and will soon end up bankrupt, placing themselves and their staff out of work.

“It is vital that our pubs survive during the coronavirus crisis as they are not only local sources of employment but provide our communities with a social hub and bring tourists into the area.

“In these most difficult of times it is vital that the Government assists in the survival of our pubs and the livelihoods of their tenants.

“The industry contributes around £23 billion to the economy and provides employment to over 900,000 people.

“The effect of these businesses ceasing to trade will be damaging for so many people and our communities, alongside our tourism and heritage sectors.”

The enforced closure of pubs across the UK, as part of the wider strategy to tackle COVID-19, came into effect on March 20. The Government has stated that pubs will be among the last businesses to reopen once the lockdown restrictions are eased.