THWAITES landlords in Bury have been dismayed to receive rent bills from the brewery for May onwards despite being unable to reopen their businesses.

The brewery, which has several watering holes across the borough, suspended rent collections until the end of April during the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown as pubs were left with no way of continuing to operate.

Now, however, landlords are facing huge pressure as the company charges rents of over £300 per week, and in some cases are forced to spend their government grants just to stay afloat.

One Bury landlord, who has asked not to be named, said: "We’re all saying how can they be asking we pay when we’re not earning anything? I don’t understand the mentality.”

And a Blackburn landlord, who also does not wish to be named, added: “There’s a lot of people very worried about their livelihoods.

“It’s not just a case that we’ll be back open in July – that’s what all these companies are saying that it’ll all be hunky-dory, but it won’t be. There’s no point pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”

He said while most businesses were in a similar position, pubs would be among the last to return to business under social distancing restrictions, and that even a period of 11 days’ lost income could come to around £10,000.

He said Thwaites’ offer of a five per cent discount on rent paid up to August up front was inadequate, while there has also been frustration at the lack of dialogue.

The landlord added: “The communication from Thwaites has been nil. They want rent, rent, rent, there’s nothing in return.”

Landlords say they are unhappy with having to spend their business grants, needed for day-to-day living expenses, on rent.

They were similarly disappointed with being expected to take out government bounce-back loans, and getting into debt despite the fact they wanted to get to work but couldn’t due to no fault of their own.

The company, meanwhile, said it was working with each tenant individually to find a way of best supporting them.

Thwaites director of pubs and brewing Andrew Buchanan said: “Every case is different and we are discussing with each tenant what is appropriate.

He added: “The overwhelming majority of our pubs are eligible to receive business grants from the government, which were specifically granted in part to allow them to pay all or some of their rent.

“Furthermore, they have access to bounce-back loans to help them through this difficult period.

“We have looked at every case individually based upon affordability.”

North-west beer writer Mark Briggs said: "It’s pretty unacceptable that Thwaites have taken this attitude alongside other pub companies.

“The pubs are being threatened – there were pubs being threatened before Covid and now it could be 20 to 30 per cent that may not reopen.”

Mr Briggs pointed out that a number of North West brewers have risen to the challenge presented by the current situation and have supported their landlords, including JW Lees and Robinsons, but was disappointed that large breweries like Thwaites, in his opinion, have not been among them.

Speaking about landlords facing pressures, he added: “These are people that are so hard working. It’s a ridiculous situation and it may come back to haunt them.”