Pub landlords across East Lancashire are urging the Government to do more to ensure they survive the coronavirus crisis, as new research shows thousands could close without more support.

As speculation increases that pubs will be the last to re-open from lockdown, research conducted by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) suggests almost 19,000, or 40 percent, of Britain’s 47,000 pubs won’t survive beyond September, unless they get more support.

Laura Smithies, who manages the Brown Cow in Clitheroe said the pub as an institution needs to be taken very seriously.

She said: "I believe that the main problem for pubs is if you don't own it you're on a very hard path, with companies charging high rents.

"Even when the Government doesn't put beer tax up the breweries do.

"So pubs have to charge silly prices to pay high rents and beer bills.

"But this is counter-productive as the essence of the local pub is it's there for working class people struggling to pay their bills who need a time to meet with friends and relax without blowing the budget.

"Nowadays a trip to the pub is a luxury and not even an every week experience for some.

"When this is over we are going to have a real battle on our hands to get people back in our pubs, one because of a fear of more illnesses, and two because people will be struggling to get by more than ever.

"The pub needs to be taken very seriously.

"It has stood the test of time as a community hub and a place to share sad and happy times.

"I think it should be a priority, as what is England without the pub?"

The findings from the BBPA come as it's thought pubs may not open until as late as the end of August.

If so, this would make the bleak results of the trade association’s survey a dangerous reality.

Carole Davis who runs the Clifton Arms in Blackburn said: "It's very worrying.

"We've managed to get a grant, which will help us until June, and our brewery has given us six weeks free rent, but some pubs haven't had any of this.

"It's all well and good getting the grant, but there's nothing in place to say what will happen after June.

"No-one knows anything, we haven't any structure, there's no plan.

"We fear as a pub trade that it's going to be August or September, or even later. If that's the case, how do we survive?"

Mrs Davis said she's been in touch with others in the trade to try and gather more information, but has found morale has not been good.

She continued: "Around 50 percent of people I've spoken to are saying that if it goes on past June, with no extra support, they're going to have to hand their keys in and look elsewhere for jobs.

"Even if we were to open, with social distancing it wouldn't be cost effective.

"We're a small pub and could fit 10 people in if everyone had to stand two metres apart, but we'd still have the same overheads.

"And what about the people who use the pub as their only chance to socialise and get out of the house.

"We're a community here and we do lots for the people in Blackburn - some people just come in to have a coffee and a chat, or for help with their bills.

"What would they do without us?

"We fear a lot of pubs will go under because of this.

"Great Britain is the pub, the British way is the pub, and we need more help to ensure it stays this way."

The situation would be devastating to the British beer and pub sector, resulting in the loss of 320,000 pub jobs in regions across the UK.

The social hub and heart of the communities of many towns, villages and cities would also be lost forever – resulting in immeasurable damage to the wellbeing of much of the population.

To try and mitigate the effects, the BBPA is now asking the Government to extend its grant support programme and job retention scheme for pubs beyond June; and start to consider the fiscal measures needed for the longer term sustainability of the sector.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "For the sake of communities and jobs across the UK – as well as the very institution of the great British pub – the Government cannot allow these pubs to close.

"If the Government takes decisive action now to properly help pubs then these pubs and jobs can be saved."

Ms McClarkin said the Government must understand that pubs and brewers are losing cash fast, and the current financial support they are giving, although welcome, does not go anywhere near enough to help pubs in an extended lockdown and beyond.

She added: “Our ask to the Government is clear, recognise the real jeopardy facing the great British pub and act now to save it, or risk losing many locals and their communities forever.”