A cross-party group of MPs has written to the UK's biggest pub landlord Ei Group urging it to cancel rent for thousands of tenants in order to save the pub industry.
So far Ei group which has thousands of tenants across the country, has only offered to defer rent for an "as yet unknown period of time", leaving pub tenants, who have been unable to trade for weeks, with escalating bills, which they will struggle to pay.
The letter organised by Alicia Kearns MP (Rutland & Melton), Anthony Browne MP (South Cambridgeshire) and Stella Creasy MP (Walthamstow) and signed by 60 MPs, has called for Ei to offer "a rent holiday, or an equivalent level of support of some other kind", to all pubs in their group, saying that failure to do so "will put many tenants deep in debt, making it financially more difficult for them to reopen".
Anthony Browne stressed that Britain's pubs should remain at the "heart of the community" , particularly considering so many had already closed their doors for good, been redeveloped or were sitting empty. He said: "Britain would not be the same without these pubs. As MPs, we must make sure that these temporary closures do not become permanent."
Alicia Kearns, added: "It is only right that EI stand by their hardworking tenants at this time and offer meaningful support to our pubs so they can weather this storm and continue bringing our communities together when our country has healed."
Stella Creasy said that pubs were in a "fight for their survival" but while they are unable to reopen for customers their landlord's "short-sighted behaviour" would mean they would close for good or get into debt. "It's time EI Group stepped up and joined our fight to save our much-loved locals."
Stonegate Pub Company yesterday announced a "multi-million support package" for publicans within the recently acquired Ei Publican Partnerships leased and tenanted business. In a statement it confirmed that "all tied publicans operating on substantive agreements that are not in receipt of Government grants" will receive a three-month rent credit for the period April to June.
The statement went on to say that to further support those publicans who are entitled to grants of between £10,000 and £25,000, and to enable them to restart their business with confidence and ease cash flow, trade credits of either 75% or 50% of the value of three months' rent will be provided.
Nick Light, managing director of Ei Publican Partnerships, said: "It is vital to us that our pubs and our publicans are in a position to trade successfully when pubs are allowed to re-open. The rent support and trade credit initiatives are intended to provide our publicans with a strong platform to do so, and to help relieve some of the financial pressure required to restock and restart."