A cross-party campaign to protect pubs in Cumbria from the impact of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and moves to taper off government support schemes has been launched.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has joined MPs from six different parties in writing to the Business Secretary to protect jobs and businesses in the pubs and hospitality industry following the new COVID-19 restrictions.

The letter, instigated by Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, calls on the Government to: publish the medical, scientific and behavioural evidence behind the decision to impose a 10pm closure time or otherwise reverse that decision; extend the original furlough scheme for those businesses that must close temporarily as a result of the new 10pm closure time being implemented; widen the 5% VAT rate, now extended until March 2021, to include all hospitality sales, to benefit those wet-led pubs whose business model has already been disproportionately harmed by the restrictions on traditional “vertical” drinking; act now to extend the business rates exemption for these businesses beyond April 2021 to allow them to plan for their future recovery.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP has warned that south Cumbria’s ‘wet pubs’ (ones that do not serve food) are at particular risk of going under as a result of the recent changes.

Commenting this week, Mr Farron said: “In many towns and villages throughout Cumbria the pub is the hub of community life.

“But the future of so many of our local pubs, bars and restaurants are on a cliff edge, hit by a perfect storm of more restrictions and less financial support.

“Ministers must act urgently to support our local pubs and hospitality businesses, or risk many of them calling time for good.”