'A continued stand-off does not help anyone'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

 UKHospitality has sent a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, calling for fiscal support to break the stalemate between landlords and business tenants and prevent another wave of restaurant closures. 

With the lease forfeiture moratorium's expiry at the end of June edging closer, the trade body warned that a solution needs to be found, suggesting a number of measures which could be implemented to do so. 

Tax credits, it states, could incentivise property owners to waive rents, introduce bounce back bonds on property to make up for lost earnings, or introduce a property furlough scheme akin to the one set out to save jobs. 

Additionally, the group is calling for an extension of the forfeiture and enforcement moratorium should be extended until at least the end of the year. 

A statement on the UKHospitality website reads: "unless financial support is forthcoming, the reopening of hospitality businesses after months of lockdown will be at risk."

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The stalemate on rent, with the June quarterly rent day fast approaching, is the biggest threat to the recovery and future of hospitality.

“We are moving towards the reopening of the sector and many people, both in and out of hospitality, are keen to see businesses open again. Unfortunately, all the good work in keeping businesses afloat during lockdown and the best-laid plans for restarting, could be completely undone by the impasse on rents.

“As things stand, when 24th June comes around, many businesses will not be able to pay. We have lost an entire quarter’s revenues to COVID-19 and the prospects for trading from July to September look severely limited. Social distancing measures and expectations of low consumer confidence are going to see businesses trading at a fraction of capacity.

“The current moratorium on forfeiture and enforcement action must extended until the end of the year, to allow Government’s proposed Code of Practice to support negotiations. The reality is, though, we are at a point where the Government has to step in and act decisively, otherwise businesses will go under, jobs will be lost, and rent will never get paid.

“Fiscal support is now the only option if we want to avoid business failures. The Government must consider supporting hospitality businesses who cannot pay rent. A continued stand-off does not help anyone.”

The news follows on Hospitality Union leader Jonathan Downey's renewed proposal for a National Time Out on rents until the end of the year, with a phased reintroduction of rents in early 2021 - arguing that landlords, banks and financiers should help share the burden of the losses as a result of the coronavirus.

An inability to pay rent due to ongoing losses from being closed or partially closed - especially in the capital - are feared to be the biggest killer of businesses in the hospitality industry, where tight margins left many in dire straights even as the crisis began.

Yesterday, UKHospitality Tweeted its support for the Federation of Small Businesses and London councils, calling for more action from landlords to cushion the pandemic's economic blow. 



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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 10th June 2020

'A continued stand-off does not help anyone'